Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Simon: Copa semifinal defeat heavy blow

Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon admits their Copa del Rey semifinal defeat was a heavy blow.

Athletic lost to Valencia in midweek.

Simon said, “It’s been a tough blow, but enough time has passed to assimilate it, turn it around and focus on Monday’s game which right now is our only priority. We have to try to recover physically and, above all, mentally.

“We love the Cup, but once we get knocked out the season doesn’t end here. If we keep focusing on the fact that we are eliminated from the Cup and we don’t turn the page, all we are doing is throwing stones at ourselves. These are things we have to learn in professional football. We still have 12 games left and our objective at the start of the season is to get into Europe.

“Right now we are seven points off sixth place. In the remaining games we have to make San Mamés a fortress and give everything when we go away. We start at a disadvantage, but there are direct confrontations and we have to have an ambitious and winning attitude. If we’ve had it so far, even more so. I think we can do it, we’ve been able to do it many times and this one will be no different.”

Despite having received a hard blow, Simón highlights the team’s recent trajectory: “We have to be aware of the campaign we have had last year and this year, of having reached four finals, including the one we won in the Super Cup and a Cup semi-final this year.

“Logically, in the near future we see that we have lost them, that we have not won the title that we are so desperate for, but with time we will realise how important and how great we have made this club by getting through the previous knockout rounds. The nice thing is to win, but the enthusiasm that we have seen in the people and in the dressing room we will value and we will see that it is very difficult what we have done.”

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