Iñigo Martinez “We Know What The Possibility Of Going To The Cup Final Means For The Fans”
Athletic’s win over Villarreal over the weekend will be a real confidence-booster for the team going into Thursday night’s Copa del Rey semifinal second leg. After beating Granada 1-0 at San Mamés last month, the Lions will now travel to Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes with a chance to book their place in the Cup final. Despite the slight advantage Athletic know that the tie is far from over.
“We will have to give it everything because they are going to come at us with a machete,” Iñigo Martinez told reporters following Sunday’s win. “It’s a special and unique game. We have to fight for ninety minutes or longer and leave everything on the field. We know what the possibility of going to the Cup final means for the fans. It’s vital and we will have to do a great job.”
Make no mistake about it, Martinez recognizes that Granada are very much alive in the second leg. One goal could swing the balance of the tie and Athletic will have to be at their best to get a positive result and advance.
“If they score first they will have the momentum. We have to have pace of mind and full confidence in the squad. It will be a very emotional game. We have an advantage, but going into the second leg to protect it would be a mistake. We have to go out to score and get ahead on the scoreboard.”
Along with trying to eliminate Granada, Athletic also have something else to worry about. Martinez, Yuri Berchiche, and Iñaki Williams are all one booking away from suspension and would miss the final if shown a yellow card against Granada. “I know what I have to do and I’m not going to doubt it,” said Martinez. “I will have to avoid silly fouls that could make me miss a possible final. It would be very hard to reach that game and not be able to play, but the most important thing is to advance.”
Having won the first leg Athletic will be favorites going into Thursday’s match. However, Granada will have the advantage of playing at home and will push the Basques to the final whistle with a place in the final on the line. Athletic dream of lifting the Copa del Rey final again for the first time since 1984, but first they must contend with Granada.