Marcelino demands more from the ‘anxious’ Athletic Bilbao

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Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelino acknowledged that his players suffered from nerves during the semi-final of the Copa del Rey against Levante.

Marcelino’s team needed an Íñigo Martínez draw at San Mamés after Gonzalo Melero gave Levante the lead when the first leg of the tie ended 1-1 on Thursday.

Athletic were the stronger of the two teams after the break after a timid performance in the first half, but could not find a winner.

The return leg will be played at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia de Levante on March 4, and the winners will face either Sevilla or Barcelona in the final on April 17.

Athletic have yet to play last season’s delayed Cup final against Real Sociedad on April 4 and their chance to complete the unprecedented feat of winning the trophy twice in the same month remains a possibility.

They have progressed through nine consecutive knockout rounds in the Copa del Rey, their best streak since 11 in a row between 1983 and 1985 (including the finals), but Marcelino said his players must be better in the second leg.

“It could have been anxiety,” Marcelino said at a post-game news conference.

“We were not comfortable in any facet of the game. We lost simple passes and we had no mobility.

“In the first half, most of the players were below his level. Then the idea of ​​the game changed and we found again what we like.

“It is clear that to be in a final we have to play as in the second half. We must demand more of ourselves.

“Approaching that level of play we can be in the final, but it is clear that we will not be able to lower the level for a minute in Valencia.”

Levante coach Paco López insisted his players should forget the second leg and the prospect of reaching the Copa del Rey final for the first time in their history and focus on LaLiga for now.

“We understand that people are waiting for this game but not for us right now. There are three weeks in between, ”he added.

“What we have in the league is the most important thing now and we must put the focus there.

“March 4 will arrive and before we have several games and we are going to have to demand it of ourselves.”




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