Athletic Club manager Marcelino García Toral reiterated his belief that the Lions are more than a match for any other side in LaLiga Santander.
The Rojiblancos fell to a battling 2-3 defeat against FC Barcelona on Wednesday and face LaLiga Santander leaders Atlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano this Saturday (January 9, 16:15 CET).
Atlético are coming off the back of a shock Copa del Rey defeat against UE Cornellá and Marcelino expects Los Colchoneros to be much more competitive against Athletic.
“I don’t think the fact they’ve just been knocked out will make much difference,” Marcelino said at his pre-match press conference. “They’re having an extraordinary season.
“They’re the team that have conceded least, whilst having scored the third most goals. Their numbers are extraordinary.
“We’re going with the hope of knocking them off course. It will be a difficult match, but that won’t take away from our enthusiasm and conviction.
“We can beat anyone.”
Marcelino is determined to ensure the opposition have to worry about the Lions rather than vice versa.
He said: “We have to be able to play for 90 minutes like how we did in the first 15 against Barcelona.
“You always have to keep the opponents in mind, but what’s really important for us is applying the concepts that we are working on, as well as adding to the attitude and quality of our players.”
After being able to spend more time with his new squad, Marcelino admitted he is impressed with what he has seen so far.
“I have found a better squad than what I expected,” he added. “They have an enormous appetite and are very receptive to the work. It’s an extraordinary group.
“I have to give them my thanks. We’re working to make the team more competitive, but we don’t have a lot of time to work on concepts right now.”
On Friday morning Athletic have been paired with UD Ibiza in the Copa del Rey round of 32. Marcelino warned that the Balearic islanders will be no pushovers.
“We knew we’d draw a Segunda B team and perhaps they are the most dangerous side we could have drawn,” he said.
“They managed a comfortable victory over Celta and last year they made life difficult for Barcelona. It will be tough on a synthetic pitch.”
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