CA Osasuna are one win away from a life-changing UEFA Champions League group stage campaign as they go into their deciding leg against Hamburger SV.
CA Osasuna are one win away from a life-changing UEFA Champions League group stage campaign as they go into the home leg of their tie against Hamburger SV.
The city of Pamplona in Navarre is most famous for the annual bull run through its streets, but after earning the chance to negotiate the third qualifying round with a fourth-placed finish in Spain's Primera División, Osasuna could be about to put the town on the world footballing map.
Osasuna's 0-0 draw in Hamburg came in only their 13th game in European competition, following several unsuccessful UEFA Cup appearances. With the club now debuting in the top continental tournament, a second-leg triumph would be a fairytale result. "It would certainly mean the club would be able to compete in the transfer market and bring in more quality players," said Pedro Lanas, who covers Osasuna - without a major trophy in their 86-year history - for Spanish newspaper El Diario de Noticias.
Last season's fourth placing was the team's best since 1990/91 and was widely credited to Mexican coach Javier Aguirre. With Aguirre departing for Club Atlético de Madrid, the task of overseeing Osasuna's biggest campaign yet has fallen to José Ángel Ziganda. The 39-year-old former Osasuna player has made it clear that the style and the squad need little tinkering, with Moroccan international midfielder Moha the only first-teamer to leave during the summer, moving to RCD Espanyol.
"Roberto Soldado has come on loan from Real Madrid B, Juanlu has been signed from Real Betis [Balompié] to replace Moha, Héctor Font has come from Villarreal [CF], and Javad Nekunam has also arrived," Lanas continued. "Only two of the players that started the first leg against Hamburg were not at the club last season. The rest were all regulars. The two new faces were Roberto Soldado, who played up front in Germany, while midfielder Nacho Monreal has been promoted from the club's B team."
Osasuna's star men are becoming household names in Spain, notably Ricardo López in goal, Javier Flaño and Javier Cuéllar in defence, David López, Patxi Puñal, Raúl García and Ludovic Delporte in midfield, and Serbian stalwart Savo Milošević leading the front line. They might not be world famous just yet, but a heroic display at El Sadar tonight will further enhance Osasuna reputations.