Javier Clemente “Athletic Needs A Title As Soon As Possible”
It’s been 35 years since Athletic last lifted the Copa del Rey trophy, but that could finally change in April. The Basque giants have reached the Cup semifinals where they will face Granada with a chance to book their place in the final. Legendary coach Javier Clemente, who led Athletic to the double in 1984, understands the challenge ahead and believes that winning the title this season would be massive for the club.
“There are a lot of young kids who don’t know what it is to go to a final,” Clemente said in an interview with Jon Zubieta of Mundo Deportivo. “Athletic needs a title as soon as possible, but titles are getting farther and farther way because they are getting harder and harder to win.”
Unlike the previous rounds, the semifinals will be held over two legs with the first match taking place on Wednesday night at San Mamés. Clemente says it’s important for the Lions to build a lead at home to avoid traveling to Granada in a difficult situation.
“If we don’t take a step in the first leg it will be complicated. We have more chances of winning here than later at Granada, although we have the ability to win there too but their fans will be against us. We have to take the advantage of the fans at San Mamés because they support the team a lot. For us, the fans are fundamental.”
Football has grown increasingly competitive over the decades, but Athletic have remained one of the top clubs in Spain. As is usually the case for teams that visit San Mamés, Clemente expects Granada to be overwhelmed by the Cathedral.
“Whenever I go to San Mamés I think that we are going to suffer because the matches are very difficult and we don’t beat anyone easily, but no one beats us easily either. Teams that come to San Mamés always suffer. Athletic has to be strong and when Athletic is strong together we can be champions.” Javier Clemente, like so many other legendary players and coaches, believes that Athletic can finally win the Cup title again in April.