For the fourth consecutive season Athletic Club will be competing in the group stage of a European tournament. The Lions defeated Dinamo Bucuresti and Panathinaikos in the qualification rounds to make it this far and the drawing for groups officially took place on Friday afternoon. This being the Europa League, every opponent is difficult but the Lions were able to avoid some of the giants from pots two through four. When the drawing was complete Athletic founds themselves in Group J along with Hertha Berlin, Zorya Luhansk, and Ostersunds.
Hertha Berlin is definitely the most well-known name in the group. The German side finished sixth in the Bundesliga last season to earn their place in the group stage and are expected to make a strong push to win the group. They have made their name by being a strong attacking team that isn’t afraid to take shots from distance. They are also very strong at defending set pieces which could make things difficult for Athletic Club when the two sides meet.
Zorya Luhansk finished third in the Ukrainian league last season and have proven to be a strong side that focuses on making things very difficult in the middle of the field. Meanwhile, Ostersunds have become one of the beloved Europa League clubs this season after making it this far despite and eighth place finish in the Sweden domestic league. They have proven that they can play inspired football and are hoping that they can continue their surprising run in the Europa League.
While Group J may not look that intimidating, it will be very difficult. Not only will Athletic have to travel to take on Hertha Berlin, they must also make long trips to Ukraine and Sweden which could prove to be very tough to overcome. Athletic will officially get the group stage started on 14 September when they travel to Germany to take on Hertha Berlin in what is already promising to be a very exciting game. Have a look below to see all the dates for Athletic’s Europa League group stage.
14 September – Hertha Berlin vs Athletic Club
28 September- Athletic Club vs Zorya Luhansk
19 October – Ostersunds vs Athletic Club
2 November – Athletic Club vs Ostersunds
23 November – Athletic Club vs Hertha Berlin
7 December – Zorya Luhansk vs Athletic Club