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12.05.2009 21:48

A date with history for Athletic

David Saura (enviat especial)

Bilbao coach Caparrós and team captain Etxeberría spoke to reporters after their last training session and explained that the Spanish Cup has a very special meaning for Athletic Club Bilbao and so the players are guaranteed to give everything they’ve

It’s just a few hours away from Wednesday night’s Cup Final and the Bilbao players and fans couldn’t be more excited. However, neither head coach Joaquín Caparrós nor team captain Joseba Etxeberría are worried that this will have a bad effect on the team’s performance – in fact, quite the opposite.

Speaking after the last training session in the Mestalla stadium itself Joaquín Caparrós, who has 27 players available, appeared very confidence of his team’s chances.

Intensity and pressure

Caparrós believes Bilbao can “compete” with Barça as long as they play with “intensity and pressure” but, he emphasized, without resorting to over-tough tackling. He highlighted the quality and importance of individual players such as Messi, Alves and Xavi but stressed that he doesn’t think Barça is unbeatable. He’d like to see his team give a repeat showing of their performance against Sevilla in the semi-finals.

“An amazing state of mind”

athletic_02.jpgThe psychological factor could be key on Wednesday night and the non-stop support of the Bilbao fans is a real boost for the “Lions”. Caparrós described the mood among his players as “amazing”. He will name his final 16-man squad just before kick-off.

Team captain Joseba Etxeberría also believes that the excitement in the Bilbao camp “isn’t negative” but quite the opposite. He is convinced that the Basques need to play with ambition and take the game to Barça, and insisted that Bilbao have had as good a run to the final as Barça.
A date with history for Athletic
Bilbao fans in Valencia
The streets of Valencia were full of Bilbao fans throughout Tuesday. Their official meeting point was open the day before the match, among other reasons to deal with the many fans that have travelled to Valencia without a ticket. It’s estimated that some 30,000 Bilbao fans will turn up despite the club having been allocated fewer than 20,000 tickets.

Club president Fernando García Macua and legendary former goalkeeper José Ángel Iríbar were present at the official opening of a large marquee set up next to the “Pont de les Flors” that spans the old course of the Turia river to receive the fans.

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