Athletic Club opened up their Europa League group stage on Thursday with a scoreless draw in Germany against Hertha Berlin. The Lions dominated the first half but were not able the find the back of the net, then everything changed in the second when the home side took control. Following the match, manager Kuko Ziganda spoke to the media and said that the result was fair. He lamented the fact that his team wasn’t able to win, but is happy taking the one point from what is the most difficult match of the group stage.
“The draw was a fair result. In the first half we were superior to them, especially in the first half hour. In fact, the first half may have been our best football of the year in general. In the second half they came out better and more together. We were stretched out and they started to tighten up. It was a tale of two halves, both in mentality and performance. In the second we lost control. They had opportunities to go ahead, but Iago [Herrerín] was great and the defense was able to recover well. Iago knows that I have full faith in him and he is a guarantee for us. In the end we could not win, but at least we were able to keep the result that was fair.”
Athletic has now gone five straight matches with clean sheets, something that Ziganda says he is happy about but not really paying attention to. He also took the time to praise the fact that the Lions played a strong match despite making five changes to the starting lineup from the weekend’s game against Girona.
“Despite making five changes we played a good game and got a favorable result. I am happy with how we have managed to handle European competition. It is good that we can keep the streak going, but I really don’t pay too much attention to it. I prepare for each game so that things go well and if you can’t win you need to at least draw. Someday the steak will end, although I do hope that it lasts longer. All I’m thinking about it recovering and preparing for Las Palmas on Sunday.”
Athletic Club will be back in action on Friday against Las Palmas. The Lions currently sit tied for fourth place in the La Liga table and could climb as high as first with a win this weekend. September is going to be a very difficult month full of tough matches, but the Basques are playing very strong football at the moment and look poised to continue their strong run of form.