After being eliminated by APOEL in last year’s Europa League, Athletic Club are looking to put the past behind them and make another deep run in the tournament. The group stage will officially kick off on Thursday when they will travel to Germany to take on Hertha Berlin in what is shaping out to be a very intense match because two equal opponents. Mikel San José took some time to speak to the media following Wednesday’s training session and made it clear that how a team starts the group stage can go a long way in determining how they will finish.
“We know that in a group like this with only six matches how you start is very important. We are coming into this game with the idea of winning against a strong rival who is in good form. We know that we didn’t play well away from home last year and that is something to correct. It’s not a question of the team missing anything, because we always one with the same plan and goal.”
The midfielder went on to say that Hertha Berlin has shown just how strong they can be in the Bundesliga this season. The Lions know that they will have to be very careful, but San José also thinks the team has learned a lot from past failures in the Europa League.
“A team capable of being sixth in the Bundesliga is a team with great potential. They have names that we all know and we have to be very careful with the. I think we have been playing a lot of European matches and have had a lot of good experiences, but we have been on the verge of reaching a big goal and that is our incentive. We know that it is difficult to reach the final, but we have a team that is good enough to do that.”
It is becoming more and more clear that Athletic Club’s main goal this season is the Europa League. The Lions believe that it is a tournament that they can win and they are ready to make another strong run starting with Thursday’s match in Germany. Kuko Ziganda’s team will be looking to shake off their away form of last year and earning all three points against Hertha would go a long way to ensuring their advancement to the next round of the tournament.