Athletic Club are in Saudi Arabia and currently preparing to take part in their second consecutive Supercopa de Espana. Marcelino led them to victory last year and will be hoping to repeat the feat.
“We’re very happy to be here and to have the opportunity to win a title within just two games,” the Asturian coach said in his pre-match press conference in comments carried by Marca.
“Many teams in La Liga would like to be in our situation. We’ll fight with all our strength to be in the final. We’re going to go for it. I see [the players] as I always see them. They work with ambition, harmony, enthusiasm.
“There’s nothing different from how they usually are, which is the great strength of this team. The attitude of winning each game is always there and based off each training session I can only praise the level of their professionalism and their state of mind.”
To go all the way and retain their crown, Athletic will need to beat Atletico Madrid in the semi-final tomorrow evening before facing off against either Barcelona or Real Madrid in the final.
It won’t be easy. Athletic are the lowest-ranked of the four clubs contesting the Supercopa, sitting ninth in La Liga at the time of writing. Barcelona are sixth, Atletico are fourth and Madrid are currently five points clear at the top of the league table.
But Athletic are a decent side themselves. Their performances this season have been far better than their results, with their inability to convert chances in the final third their perennial flaw. If they bring their shooting boots to Riyadh, they have a shot.