The Athletic Club players have officially touched down in Athens, Greece for their Europa League clash with Panathinaikos which will take place on Thursday. The winner of this knock-out will advance tot he group stage of the tournament and the Lions know that they will need a good result to bring back to the San Mamés next week. Right-back Oscar De Marcos recently spoke with Onda Cero about the match, admitting that the player know it will be very hot. Still, he believes that the team is used to playing difficult matches like this now.
“It will be a night where we will notice the heat, so we will try to stay as hydrated as possible. We know that they are a very good team and will try to press and make things difficult for us. We are accustomed to these types of matches now. At this time of the season you rarely play a game with this type of intensity. It is nice to play meaningful games so quickly.”
De Marcos was also asked about how Athletic is doing under new manager Kuko Ziganda. The 28-year-old stated that the Lions are still the Lions and that Ziganda’s system does not differ too much from that of Ernesto Valverde, and that he is excited to play in Athens.
“Athletic is still the same team with the same players. We are very happy and excited about what this season can bring. Kuko is different from Ernesto with some tactical things, but there are a lot of similarities as well. He is more vocal, but every manager is different. We are playing good football right now and I hope that we can pass the tie. I am excited about playing in Athens, it should be a nice venue and atmosphere.”
After Thursday’s match in Greece, Athletic Club will open up their La Liga season on Sunday when they host newly promoted Getafe at the San Mamés. Then the Lions will host Panathinaikos four days later in the return leg of their Europa League tie. In total the Basques will play four games in two weeks so Ziganda will have to be careful with player rotations very early in the season. Right now the biggest goal is to make it to the group stage and it all begins tomorrow.