Kuko Ziganda And Mikel Balenziaga Discuss Europa League Group Draw

The drawing for the Europa League group stage officially took place on Friday which saw Athletic Club seeded in Group J. Joining the Basques were Hertha Berlin of Germany, Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine, and Ostersunds of Sweden. Following the draw, Mikel Balenziaga and Kuko Ziganda took some time out of training to discuss the group and were both quick to admit that it will not be easy to advance. They highlighted long trips away from home as something that will have to be overcome. Here is what they had to say:

Kuko Ziganda

Kuko Ziganda knows that Group J will be difficult to win (DEIA)

Mikel Balenziaga

“It is too early to have information and an understanding of these three teams. In principle, Hertha is the one that plays in a stronger league. The other two, Zorya and Ostersunds, will be long trips. In Europe it is difficult to beat any opponent. We have a lot of enthusiasm for the group stage, like previous years, and great desire to make it to the next round. For us it is very important and an immense joy to be in the group stage for a fourth consecutive year. Other teams like Fenerbahce or Ajax, who were runners up last year, haven’t even made it this far so it is something to value and be very proud of accomplishing.”

Kuko Ziganda

“We are happy to be here again. We could not choose our opponents but we are satisfied with the draw. We have a little bit of everything. Berlin is a stimulating trip for our fans. It is a major European city, with a great stadium as well. It’s going to be a joy to play and make this trip. The other opponents are lesser known. Zorya has experience in the Europa League and are accustomed to playing in the group stage. They have had serious chances to advance. We have all the respect in the world for them. I honestly don’t know much about Ostersunds, but they have eliminated Galatasaray and PAOK. That is big. The trips to Ukraine and Sweden will be cold so we will have to adapt as best we can to play good matches.”

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