After a historic 3-2 comeback against Panathinaikos in Athens, Greece last week, Athletic Club will be looking to finish off the tie at home on Thursday. The winner of the round will book their place in the group stage of the Europa League so everything will be on the line at the San Mamés. Iago Herrerín, who continues to function as Athletic’s cup keeper, took the time following Tuesday’s training session to speak to the media. He said that he is happy playing in any competition and that the comeback victory in Greece was very special for the team.
“The match in Athens was a big scare. They started very strong and we did not feel comfortable. Football is capricious, we were able to turn the game around and get a good result. We knew that 2-0 was going to be difficult to overcome so we just went for them. I’ve already said that if I play in the Europa League I’m happy. If I play in the Copa I’m happy and I’m happy if I play in the league also. I enjoy playing in any competition and I will continue working hard to be available whenever the Mister calls on me. He is the one that makes the decisions, all I can do is train hard. The season is very long. Whenever you have two goalkeepers training and playing at a high level it is always good for the team. We both want to make it difficult for the Mister to choose.”
The goalkeeper went on to say that the team is only thinking about Thursday’s match despite a Basque Derby against Eibar looming on Sunday. He recognizes that Athletic has to be at 100 percent if they want to continue playing in the Europa League this season.
“At the moment we are only thinking about Thursday. If we want to continue playing in this tournament we have to be focused on Thursday’s match. If we can win and advance to the next round it would be very positive and would put us in a good place going into the game against Eibar. We are looking forward to a nice game with a good atmosphere. We are going to enjoy it. The team is doing well. We go into every game looking to win but we could not on Sunday even though we played a great game. I think we were tired from the 3-2 comeback, but I do think that we created more scoring chances on Sunday.”
Holding a 3-2 lead is good for Athletic, but that fact that they have three away goals may be even bigger. Take into account the fact that they will also be playing the second leg at the San Mamés and the Lions have a good chance to advancing in the Europa League. However, this is a European competition and that means that every opponent is strong and anything can happen. Athletic has big hopes for this year’s competition, but first they must take care of business at home on Thursday.