Athletic Club Bilbao prepare to travel to Israel
Madrid - Three Spanish sides are in Europa League action on Thursday night with different perspectives on their future.
Athletic Club Bilbao face a long trip to Israel to take on Happoel Kiryat in a game they must win in order to have any chance of progress in the competition. Athletic must also hope that Olympique Lyon win away to Sparta Prague to keep their options alive, although given the current conflict over Gaza, the Basque players have been worrying about travelling to play Thursday’s match in Haifa, reports Xinhua.
“There is a war going on and that is a bit frightening,” commented midfielder, Oscar de Marcos Tuesday. UEFA have guaranteed Athletic’s safety but continue to monitor the security situation in Israel.
Atletico Madrid also play an Israeli side but are at home to Happoel Tel Aviv and are clear favourites for a win that would assure the reigning Europa League champions their place in the next round.
Atletico were surprisingly beaten in Coimbra a fortnight ago but coach Diego Simeone aims to celebrate his 50th game as coach with a win although he will continue with his policy of making squad rotations in the club’s European matches.
Finally Levante can continue their brilliant European campaign if they can win away to Swedish side Helsinborgs. The main problem for the Valencia based team is the absence of striker Obi Martins who joined the club when it was too late to be inscribed in the competition.
It is likely to be a tough game in Sweden and the question is whether or not Levante coach Jose Ignacio Martinez will make widespread changes to his side ahead of the weekend league game at home to FC Barcelona.