After seeing off Dinamo Bucuresti, Athletic Club will now face Panathinaikos in the knock-out round of the Europa League. The Greeks are a familiar face in this tournament and will prove to be a difficult test for the Lions. Following Friday’s draw, Aritz Aduriz spoke to the media and had a lot of praise for the new opponent. He says they will be hard to beat, but that is all the Basques are thinking about.
“We have already been drawn against the most difficult possible opponent, but now it has happened again. Panathinaikos has won many leagues and cups in their country and is a club with a lot of tradition. They have competed a lot in Europe, this is familiar to them. Now everything is all about trying to beat them. We know they will be a difficult rival and we have a lot of respect for them.”
Aduriz also admitted that playing the second leg at the San Mamés is a bid deal that could decide the tie. He praised the Athletic fans who always give the team energy at home and said he knows they will do the same against Panathinaikos.
“It is always said that playing the second game at home is an advantage. We will have to make the most out of that advantage. The fans are at ease with the direction of the club and their energy has helped us a lot. There was a good atmosphere in the stadium [against Dinamo Bucuresti] and it will happen again against Panathinaikos. We are sure to have the fans supporting us again.”
The first leg will take place in Athens, Greece on 17 August so the Lions will have roughly two weeks to prepare. Before that match, Athletic will play a friendly against Liverpool in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday and one week later they will be facing off with Alaves in the Basque Country Cup. Now that the season has officially begun, fans will be eagerly awaiting the next round of games that will also help kick off the La Liga season on 20 August against Getafe at the San Mamés.