When the season first began there was one main objective that was staring Athletic Club in the face. The Lions needed to qualify for the group stage of the Europa League and that meant that they would have to advance through the third qualifying round and the knock-out stage. After intense ties against Dinamo Bucuresti and Panathinaikos the Basques booked their place in Group J which will begin after the current international break comes to a end.
The Europa League requires every club to register their team for the tournament, which means that only players on the list are able to participate. On Friday Athletic Club announced their latest list which saw two new additions to the team. Bilbao Athletic’s Iker Undabarrena and Óscar Gil were included and will wear numbers 27 and 29 respectively.
Undabarrena has long been considered a player that could one day make it to the first team but an ACL tear two years ago saw him take a step back. This year he will continue his role as the leader of Bilbao Athletic and could see time during the Europa League group stage if the conditions are right. Meanwhile, Óscar Gil returned this summer from a disappointing loan with Real Oviedo and will stay with Athletic’s reserve side. The club had hoped for another Segunda loan move to materialize, but that never happened. His leadership and experience could be absolutely vital for Gaizka Garitano’s team.
Once again Unai Nuñez, Iñigo Córdoba, and Unai Simón were all left off of the main list, but that is because their age allows them to be placed on the secondary list. Utilizing the secondary team list allows Athletic Club to register more players to possibly compete in the tournament. Whether or not Undabarrena and Gil will actually see time with the first team is yet to be seen, but their inclusion in the Europa League squad does show optimism about their futures with Athletic Club.