Previewing Sevilla vs Athletic Club: Copa Del Rey Round Of 16 Second Leg

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Can Athletic Club shock Sevilla and advance in the Copa del Rey? (AC)

Athletic Club’s three game stretch of matches against Sevilla will finally come to an end on Wednesday when they Lions travel to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán for the second leg of the Copa del Rey. Sevilla won the first meeting at the San Mamés 3-1 which puts the Basques in a difficult situation to advance to the next round. Manager Gaizka Garitano admitted on Tuesday that it will be hard to overcome the deficit but has demanded a competitive performance from his players.

After Sunday’s 2-0 win, and with another big La Liga match coming up in a few days, Garitano will rest several of his key players. Yeray, Beñat, and Yuri Berchiche were not even called up for the game while Aritz Aduriz, Raúl García, Mikel Rico, and Iñigo Lekue continue to miss out due to injury. Once again Iñigo Vicente was included in the squad as was Unai López who has yet to feature under the new manager.

Like Athletic, Sevilla are also expected to rotate their team especially considering their 3-1 lead. Garitano already worked with a proposed starting lineup during training on Tuesday which featured several players who could use this opportunity to earn more minutes this season. No matter who is actually on the field the manager wants the team to fight and the goal is still to find a way to come back and advance to the next round.

If Athletic are going to overcome their 3-1 deficit the Lions will need to score an early goal. Athletic need at least three goals in total to have a chance to advancing and the earlier they can find the back of the net the more pressure it will put on Sevilla. In fact, if the Basques can find a way to put two balls into the back of the net Garitano could turn to Iñaki Williams or Iker Muniain on the bench in hopes of flipping the script at the Pizjuán. Whatever happens this is another important challenge for the team to grow and improve with more difficult games on the schedule ahead. It won’t be easy, but Athletic haven’t given up on the Cup.

Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Oscar De Marcos, Unai Nuñez, Peru Nolaskoain, Mikel Balenziaga, Mikel San José, Ander Iturraspe, Markel Susaeta, Unai López, Ibai Gómez, Gorka Guruzeta

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