Bielsa unhappy with Athletic display

Athletic Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa was unhappy with his team’s display in the 2-1 Europa League second-leg defeat to Slaven Belupo.

However, the Argentine said he took full responsibility for the performance, particularly in the opening 45 minutes when his players struggled to cope with Slaven’s direct approach.

“I made the mistake of not realising the team needed a more determined attitude and I am accountable for how we played in the first half.

“We had players who could not play the type of game that was needed,” he told a Press conference.

Bielsa brought on Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta, Iker Muniain and Fernando Llorente at half-time in an attempt to change things, a move that paid off with Muniain equalising two minutes into the second half.

However, Bielsa maintained that it was no reflection on Borja Ekiza, Ibai Gomez and Gaizka Toquero, the players who were brought off.

“I made three substitutions but I was not attaching blame to anyone. It was a collective thing of which I was also a part.

“We were losing to opponents who were not at our level and struggled to adapt, so I can’t be satisfied with that.

“The difference in class was great but we could not make it obvious,” he pointed out.

Slaven Coach Roy Ferencina was understandably delighted with the reaction of his players after the 3-1 first-leg defeat, yet believed his team was denied a penalty two minutes from time that could have levelled the tie.

“I have to congratulate my players for the work they put in but I think we were the victims of injustice as there was a penalty near the end that was not given,” commented Ferencina.

“Even so, Athletic are a great team, although they did not show that here, but I always thought we could have gone through.”

Tags Bielsa Slaven Belupo