Youngsters gearing up for Adams Park meetingOur Under-23s are in international action next week – it’s a crunch clash against Spanish side Athletic Bilbao next Wednesday, kicking off at 7pm at Adams Park!
It is the second of our three group-stage meetings in the Premier League International Cup. A 2-1 defeat in our opening fixture to Everton, the other English side in our pool, means that victory is imperative for Martin Kuhl’s side if hopes of progressing to the next stage are to stay alive.
Our U23s are effectively fighting on four fronts this season – as well as the top division of Premier League 2, our boys are also competing for glory in the Premier League Cup and the Premier League International Cup and forming a bulk of our representative side in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Bilbao drew 2-2 in their opener against Hertha Berlin last month when they met in Brighton, leaving the Royals with ground to make up on their group rivals. Only one club qualifies from the pool stage automatically, whilst the two best-placed runners-up also advance to the knock-outs.
Urtzi Urzelai had opened the scoring for the Basque outfit when they met Hertha, but they fell behind to goals either side of the break. However striker Jon Morcillo, on as a sub, struck 20 minutes from time to give Bilbao a share of the points.
Managed by former Spanish international José Ángel Ziganda, Bilbao’s second-string side play competitively in open-age football in the domestic league structure. They spent last season competing in the Segunda Division, the second rung on the Spanish ladder, where they faced the likes of Alaves, Osasuna, Mallorca and Zaragoza.
And like Reading, there is a good pathway between their youth setup and their senior side. The club employ a Basque-only policy, and a bulk of their first team – including sought-after forward Iñaki Williams – are products of their own ‘cantera’.
So it is sure to be a tough outing for our youngsters against one of Europe’s best-reputed sides for developing young talent. And hopefully it will be an entertaining affair which will send the home crowd home happy!
Tickets for this fixture are priced £3 Adults and £1 Concessions, with parking available at Adams Park at £2 per car. All entry should be paid on the evening of the fixture.
Supporters’ Trust at Reading will also be operating a coach to and from Adams Park – the coach leaves Madejski Stadium at 5pm, priced at £10 per STAR member. Click here for more information, including how to book.