A first trophy with Atlanta United is within reach for Gonzalo Martinez, and the Argentine international is savoring the chance to win the Campeones Cup on Wednesday night (8 pm ET; ESPN2) at the expense of Club America.
While most would give the Mexican titans the edge in the second-ever edition of the tournament that pits the reigning Major League Soccer champion with Liga MX’s Campeón de Campeones winner, “Pity” feels that The Five Stripes have everything in their favor to take home the silverware - even if they’re facing one of the region’s fiercest clubs.
“They’re a great team, they’ve shown that they’re a great team throughout the continent,” Martinez, who signed with Atlanta this season from River Plate, said of Las Águilas after Sunday’s 2-1 win over New York City FC in league action.
That said, even the best of opponents have struggled at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where upwards of 70,000 raucous fans create an intimidating atmosphere for visitors.
“We’re very strong at home. We have to be focused and play our game so that we can win this trophy”, the two-time Copa Liberadores champion explained.
“I think America have to respect us for what we’ve done. We’re a great team, we’ll fight any opponent - we proved it in the second leg against Monterrey.”
“Pity” was referring to Atlanta’s 1-0 win over Rayados in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals from last March that, while it didn’t avoid elimination from the competition, showed that there are no easy games when the Five Stripes have their home fans behind them.
And while there are sure to be plenty of Club America supporters in the stands this time around, Martinez doesn’t even entertain the possibility of failing to lift the trophy on home turf.
In fact, when asked what it would mean to lose against America on Wednesday, South America’s footballer of the year in 2018 was defiant:
“Nothing, because we’re going to beat them.”