Man United v Bilbao: Javi Martínez targets upset at Old Trafford
Javi Martínez believes Athletic Bilbao have a chance of causing an upset against Manchester United in their last-16 tie
Javi Martínez is convinced Athletic Bilbao can cause an upset against Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie at Old Trafford.
The 23-year-old was part of the Bilbao side which suffered a 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in a pre-season friendly at White Hart Lane back August.
But the Spain international is confident the Basque outfit can go to Manchester and secure a positive result to bring back to San Mames for the return leg.
“We pass the ball more, but we have good experience of English teams although we lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur,” he said.
“But we’ve always had good games when we’ve gone to England. So why not? We can surprise them.”
Martínez, who has made 197 appearances for Bilbao, has been linked with a move to Liverpool or Manchester United this summer.
But he denied there has been interest from any Premier League clubs, insisting his focus is on helping fifth-placed Bilbao qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“I try not to think about it too much, it’s all media rumours, and nothing to do with me. My agent and I have received no concrete offers.
“I prefer to concentrate on the league. We’re doing fine and I want to be 100 per cent focused on this important part of the season for us.”
Pre-match facts: Manchester United v Athletic Bilbao
• Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are the only current United players to have represented the club on their last Uefa Cup campaign, featuring in 0-0 and 2-2 draws against Rotor Volgograd in 1992.
• Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose spent three years on the books of United’s north-west rivals Liverpool but never made a senior appearance for the club.
• United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea played in three games against Bilbao for Atletico Madrid; two wins and – most recently – a 2-0 home defeat.
• They have not reached the quarter-finals since the 1976/77 season, when they went on to lose to Juventus on awaygoals in the two-legged final.