Osasuna host Athletic Club in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at El Sadar this evening, with kick off set for a frosty 21:00 CEST. The noise and the occasion are likely to fire up both sets of players though, as both sides face their most important game of the season.
Los Rojillo have never won the Copa del Rey and are back in the semi-finals for the first time since 2005, when they were runners-up to Real Betis. Meanwhile Athletic Club are in their fourth consecutive semi-finals, losing twice in the final over the last three years. Los Leones are seeking their first triumph since 1984, having been to the final an incredible six times without winning since.
Ahead of the match, Jagoba Arrasate asked his Osasuna side to play with composure and passion at the same time, giving off an air of confidence that his part was done. Ernesto Valverde is dealing with a less positive atmosphere following defeat to Girona at the weekend, instead explaining to the press they were over that result.
The hosts come into the game in off the back of a 3-2 win over Sevilla in Andalusia. They sit 8th in La Liga, a point above Athletic in 9th. That was their first win in five, having put both Sevilla (2-1 AET) and holders Real Betis (2-2, penalties) out of the cup prior to that.
Athletic have won four and lost four of their last eight games, defeated in their last two by Girona and Atletico Madrid by a goal on each occasion.
Osasuna are only missing Ruben Pena, while Athletic are without Jon Morcillo, Unai Simon and Ander Herrera. Inigo Martinez, Nico Williams, Raul Garcia and Yeray Alvarez are all struggling for fitness too.
The general feeling is that Los Rojillo perhaps come into this match in better shape, looking the more self-assured. However Athletic are far more experienced in this realm, and arguably have more quality to call on overall.