Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that Fernando Llorente will again start for Athletic Bilbao from the bench today and that Gaizka Toquero is now a reserve full-back.
In a short Press conference, the Argentine only briefly commented that the Spain international striker was ‘progressing, markedly progressing’, when otherwise confirming the intended starting XI that the team will use away at Mestalla later today.
Llorente has yet to start for the Basques since his summer was interrupted by strong transfer speculation after his refusal to sign a new contract.
Otherwise, Bielsa wanted to focus on Saturday’s opponents Valencia, who he felt were stronger than their eight points on the board suggested.
“Numerically they have fewer points than they deserve, but the performance and power is still intact, I believe,” the Coach reflected.
“Generally I have not seen substantial changes between the current side and the one from last season, the system used is similar.
“It is clear that Athletic need to win, as usual, especially this time for the succession of results that have come at the start of the season.”
Bielsa also confirmed the intention to convert forward Gaizka Toquero into a right-back. The 28-year-old with the No 2 on his back has been training in that position during the international break.
“He is a fast player, surprising and daring. It is an option for when we do not have [Andoni] Iraola. I have spoken with him and he said that during his development as a youth that he has already played there so in we see no specific problems for him adapting to that position.”
It is a reunion between Bielsa and Valencia Coach Mauricio Pellegrino, having worked together as Coach and player when at Velez Sarsfield during the 1997-98 season.
“Pellegrino was very thoughtful and attentive to the tactical aspects.”