Thursday will see the first match of the season at the San Mamés and it is already a must win. After drawing 1-1 with Dinamo Bucuresti in Romania, Athletic must get a good result if they are to advance to the next stage of the Europa League. Iago Herrerin will be looking to make up for the wonder goal that he allowed in the first meeting and told El Larguero De La Ser that he believes the Lions have more desire than anyone. Still, he claimed that falling to Dinamo would be a failure.
“Thursday’s game is a final. We wanted to play in Europe but we did not qualify the way that we wanted to. Finishing seventh still gives us the chance but we have to earn our place. In the first meeting we knew that the pace would be what cost us the most, but we had to have a good performance. We have shown that we can play with the pressure and more desire than anyone else. We will go for the game from the beginning. If we fall to Dinamo it will be a failure.”
Herrerin also discussed new manager Kuko Ziganda whom he likened to Asier Garitano who trained the keeper last season while on loan at Leganes. The 29-year-old also said that he is going to work as hard as he can because his dream is to be successful at Athletic Club.
“Kuko reminds me of Asier Garitano, he is very fickle. He does not always want to be right and he likes when he debate with him and have different ideas. He is humble and has big ideas. I don’t know if I will start, but I am training like that is the case. I wanted to know what plans Kuko had for me this season and he said that he counts on me. I will just work hard and let the coach decide. My dream is to succeed and triumph at Athletic Club.”
There should be at least one change to the Athletic lineup on Thursday. After missing out in the first game, Iñaki Williams will be in the squad and may even be in the starting lineup. His pace and dynamic attacking could very well provide the spark that could tilt the game in Athletic’s favor. Herrerin will, of course, play a very important role. If he can keep a clean sheet then the Lions will advance to the next stage of the Europa League.