Athletic Club finished seventh in La Liga season and, thanks to Barcelona beating Alaves in the Copa del Rey, qualified for European competition for the fourth consecutive season. The Lions were not immediately seeded into the group stage but must play their way in through the qualifying rounds. The draw officially took place on Friday and the Basques now know who their opponent will be as they look to make a deep run in the Europa League.
Athletic will face off with Romanian giants Dinamo Bucharest in the third round of the Europa League qualifiers after being drawn together. The first leg will take place on 27 July in Bucharest and the return leg will be at the San Mames on 3 August.
The city of Bucharest isn’t new to Athletic. Back in 2012 they played there in the Europa League final which they lost. This will be their first time back since the defeat and players like Iker Muniain, Oscar De Marcos, and others will remember the heartbreak they felt in Romania. For the Lions to continue their pursuit of the coveted trophy, they must conquer the city this time to advance to the next round of the tournament.
There are now less than two weeks until the match in Bucharest so Athletic must work hard and make every day count as they continue preparing. Cuco Ziganda’s side has already played one friendly this summer but have several more scheduled before their Europa League tie. On Saturday they will face off with Switzerland side FC Sion before taking on Fenerbahce on Monday. There is no time to waste. Dinamo Bucharest is no pushover and will be ready for the Lions, so it is up to Ziganda to have his players ready for what will be a very entertaining start to the new season.