Julen Guerrero Warns Athletic Not To Take Intercity Lightly In Upcoming Copa Del Rey Match
Drawing Athletic in the next round of the Copa del Rey was the biggest moment in the three-year history of Intercity. The club, which currently competes in the Tercera, will host the Basque giants at Estadio Martínez Valero on 17 December in what will be a very special game for the Intercity fans. Meanwhile, this match will be the first obstacle that Athletic must overcome as the Lions seek to win their 24th Copa del Rey title.
“You always have to respect every opponent and never make assumptions,” warned club legend Julen Guerrero in an interview with EFE. Athletic were eliminated by Segunda B side Formentera just two years ago and the embarrassment and wound are still fresh.
The change to the Copa del Rey format will make every game even bigger this year. Instead of every round consisting of two legs, only one match will be played until the semifinals. “They have been playing the Cup in this way in England for some time and, although everyone knows that anything can happen, there are always surprises,” continued Guerrero.
Like most, Guerrero is excited about the change to the format because he believes it favors the smaller clubs. Playing one game instead of two increases the chances for surprises and forces teams to take the tournament much more seriously.
“Changing the format to a single game is something I like because it open things up a little more. In this way, the most modest clubs are rewarded on a sporting and economic level. These games are an important opportunity for them and they have to enjoy it.”
In closing, Guerrero was asked about Athletic’s success under Gaizka Garitano who has now been manager for exactly one year. The current Spain U16 coach is pleased with the current state of the team and hopes that they will be able to finish high in the table this season.
“The team has settled in well. The players are aware of what they have to do and feel comfortable working. Athletic are a difficult team to beat. Not being in Europe this year allows the team to better prepare for league games. They are in a good dynamic and the higher they can be the better.” Along with competing for European qualification, Athletic also hope to make a deep run in the Copa del Rey and it all starts with the match against Intercity later this month.