Athletic Club have it all to do in their Copa Del Rey semi-final second leg against Osasuna on Tuesday night

Athletic Club will be keen to overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first leg when they take on fellow La Liga side Osasuna in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-finals on Tuesday night.

Visiting the San Mames is no easy task and given that a spot in the final is on offer, Osasuna cannot afford to employ any half-measures. Abde Ezaalzouli’s effort gives the visitors a small advantage and they will be keen to make the most of it with a final’s spot on the line.

Los Rojillos have had to resort to extra time or penalties to get the better of their last three opponents in this season’s competition. It is an approach they might have to endure once again should Athletic turn up with their scoring shoes on for the night.

Osasuna made it to the final of the competition just once in 2005. However, they were unable to go all the way and were defeated 2-1 by Real Betis in extra time. Having lost in two finals over the last three years, Athletic will hope that their fans can inspire them to yet another attempt to end the 39-year hoodoo in the Copa Del Rey.

The winner of the tie will take on Barcelona or Real Madrid in the showpiece event, with the Catalans holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg. To say that all four teams are still in with a chance of coming out on top would be an understatement.

Both Athletic and Osasuna are some way off in the running for a European spot this season. Winning the Copa Del Rey will guarantee them a spot in the UEFA Europa League, for next season. It would be a worthy reward for two teams who have outdone themselves in this season’s cup run.

Given what is at stake, it promises to be a hard-fought contest at the San Mames. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at how the teams might line up and the tactics they could deploy.

Team News & Tactics

Athletic Club

Ernesto Valverde’s side have won just one of their last six games across all competitions and have fallen away in their bid to secure a European spot through the league standings. However, form will matter for little in knockout ties and Athletic will have enough in their tank to turn up in front of their home crowd.

Valverde has won the competition both as a player and a manager with Barcelona and will be keen to end Athletic Club’s 39-year wait for the trophy. Having not won any trophy sans the Supercopa de Espana this century, the Zuri-gorriak should be up for the game.

Valverde will be without the injured trio of Inigo Lekue, Jon Morcillo and Ander Herrera. The home side are likely to make changes to the side that drew against Getafe with several key players coming in.

A 4-2-3-1 formation appears to be the preferred choice on the night and will see Julen Agirrezabala in goal. The Spaniard will be the last line of defence behind the rearguard of Oscar De Marcos, Dani Vivian, Inigo Martinez and Yuri Berchiche.

Mikel Vesga and Dani Garcia will form the double pivot and be tasked with protecting the defence. They will need to win the midfield battle soon to enable the home side to dominate the pace of the game. Doing so will also free up the trio of Nico Williams, Oihan Sancet and Iker Munian to get forward.

Inaki Williams is expected to lead the attack and will be expected to show his clinical best when put in goal-scoring opportunities.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Agirrezabala; De Marcos, Vivian, I Martinez, Berciche; D Garcia, Vesga; N Williams, Sancet, Muniain; I Williams


Los Rojillos will hold a slight advantage going into the game and will be keen to keep the status quo for as long as possible. Conceding in the opening minutes could change the tide of the momentum, handing the initiative to Athletic to drive home their advantage.

Jagoba Arrasate will welcome back Darko Brasanac who will have served out his suspension. Osasuna, will, however, have to do without Ezequiel Avila on the night owing to injury. Ruben Pena is also far from fully-fit but could come off the bench if needed.

David Garcia is expected to return after being rested at the weekend and will be tasked with marshalling the defensive effort. A 4-3-3 formation will offer the visitors the flexibility needed to shift gears when needed and alternate between defensive and attacking plays.

Sergio Herrera is expected to start in goal behind the backline of Jon Moncayola, Aridane Hernandez, David García and Juan Cruz.

Lucas Torro should hold the fort in central midfield, with Moi Gomez and Aimar Oroz flanking him in the central region. The trio will have the unenviable task of disturbing Ahtletic’s rhythm and not letting them set the pace of the game.

Ruben Garcia and the first-leg’s hero, Abde Ezzalzouli will provide the width on the night with Abde Budimir leading the line. The trio will need to be proactive on the counter-attack and make the most of any opportunities that might fall their way.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Herrera; Moncayola, Hernandez, D Garcia, Cruz; M Gomez, Torro, Oroz; R Garcia, Budimir, Ezzalzouli

Key Stats

  • Athletic Bilbao have conceded just three goals in the Copa Del Rey this season.
  • Osasuna last made it to the final of the competition in 2005. They have never won the Copa Del Rey.
  • Athletic Club are the second most successful side in the competition’s history, winning it 23 times. Only Barcelona have won the competition more times (31).
  • Only Real Madrid have lost more Copa Del Rey finals than Athletic Club

Player to Watch

Inaki Williams

Inaki Williams will have all to do on Tuesday. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

The 28-year-old has five goals and two assists to his name this season and is far from prolific. However, his athleticism and dynamism should cause problems for Osasuna, especially if he can get into the right places.

Willians is expected to lead the home side’s attack and will also function as a target man to bring other attackers into play. Osasuna will have a difficult time keeping the striker at bay but as long as they can do that, it should take the sting out of the Athletic attack.

There is a lot riding on the game between two sides who have little to separate them and Williams could very well be the difference maker. 


Athletic Club 1-1 Osasuna (Osasuna to win 2-1 on aggregate)

While Athletic have home advantage and the initiative to go all out, it also leaves them open at the back. Add to it their poor form and one can see Osasuna get on the scoresheet sooner or later. It promises to be a hard-fought game between two sides that are more or less evenly matched. The Hard Tackle believe Osasuna will hold their opponents to a draw, securing a spot in the Copa Del Rey final.

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