MADRID, March 30 (Xinhua) — Athletic Club Bilbao’s attacking midfielder Raul Garcia insists he is completely focused on the first of the two Copa del Rey finals his side will play in the space of a fortnight.
Bilbao plays Basque rivals Real Sociedad at the Estadio de la Cartuja (Seville) on April 3rd in the 2020 final which was delayed from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, before they then face FC Barcelona on the same ground two weeks later in this season’s final.
Raul played a big role in helping Athletic reach this season’s final with a 93rd-minute goal that took them into extra time ahead of their quarter-final win away to Betis, but speaking on TeleBilbao, he said he prefers to take things step-by-step.
The final against Barca “doesn’t exist yet,” said the 34-year-old, who is focused on Saturday’s game, which is not only a final but also a derby between two historic rivals.
“We are confident. Everyone is working well and remaining calm,” he said.
Although Bilbao won the Spanish Supercup in 2015 and beat both Real Madrid and Barca on the way to lifting this season’s title, their luck in recent Copa del Rey finals has been different, losing to Barca in 2009, 2012, and 2015, while they also lost the 2012 Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.
You have to go back to 1984 for the last time Athletic won the Copa del Rey (the 24th in their history).
“The train doesn’t pass by very often,” admitted Raul, who highlighted the club’s upturn in form since Marcelino Garcia Toral took over as the first-team coach at the start of the year.
“We are in good form and the coach’s style of football suits us very well,” commented Raul.
Meanwhile, striker Asier Villalibre called on his companions to give everything in Saturday’s match.
“We have the key within us. We have to go out with intensity, look to attack and go for the game. It sounds easy, but it’s hard to do, although much of the solution is inside up,” insisted the striker nicknamed ‘The Buffalo’ due to his physical presence and high work rate. Enditem