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We Want This: JBG

Clarets wingman wants another shot at Europa League success

16 August 2018

Johan Berg Gudmundsson has twice made it to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

And he doesn’t want his latest taste of the competition to end here.

Gudmundsson helped Dutch club AZ Alkmaar go as far as the last eight in 2012 and again in 2014 before their shot at glory was ended first by Valencia and then Benfica.

Four years on his passion for the tournament remains undimmed.

And the Clarets’ winger is eyeing another sustained run as Burnley prepare to take on Istanbul Basaksehir in the second leg of their third qualifying round tie at Turf Moor tonight, knowing that any win will take them to within one more aggregate victory of the group stages.

“Sometimes in England you look at the Europa League and teams don’t really want to be in it,” said Gudmundsson.

“But we definitely do. For us to play more games I think is more fun than going out to train and hopefully we can stay in this competition for as long as possible.

“It is tough to get into the group stages but that’s our target. We want to get into that because that’s the real competition, so hopefully we can make a good step by beating Istanbul Basaksehir.

“We know it’s going to be tough to go through to the group stages, but we as a club, we want to go there.

“Most of the players haven’t played in the Europa League and they want to try themselves out in this league.

“I think it’s only going to add positive things. It’s a nice competition and as long as we are all fit and healthy I have no worries about playing twice a week.”

The Clarets play for a fourth successive Thursday evening with the tie against the Turkish outfit locked at 0-0 following the first leg in Istanbul a week ago.

Sean Dyche’s side made sure they wouldn’t return home with a deficit to claw back with a highly disciplined defensive performance inside the Fatih Terim Stadium.

And Gudmundsson is now looking to make that count by securing the victory that would almost certainly set up a play-off decider against former Greek champions Olympiakos, who lead 4-0 from the first leg of their tie against Swiss side FC Lucerne.

“We know what we have to do,” added the Iceland international, whose threat from wide positions and set-pieces could be key.

“As long as we keep it solid at the back we are dangerous, especially at Turf Moor, so I think you’re going to see more attacking football from us than in the first game.

“We know we have to score to go through, so we will definitely be more attacking.

“But that’s the Europa League. Sometimes when you go away you need to shut up shop and keep the goal clean.

“If you can nick a goal that’s fantastic, but if you go away with a 0-0 you will take that and go to your home and try to do it there.

“I thought out in Istanbul it was a really good performance. It was professional and something we knew we had to do.

“They kept the ball for a long time but they didn’t really threaten the goal so hopefully it won’t be as much defending tomorrow, a little bit more attacking and we can score a few goals.

“We are playing at Turf Moor so we feel in good shape. We know it’s going to be difficult but it’s a task we can definitely get through.”


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