Bielsa wants Athletic impact

Marcelo Bielsa is keen for Athletic Bilbao to maintain their playing style, despite visiting Real Madrid with a number of absentees.

The Basque Country outfit have won their last two League fixtures to represent a turnaround in early season misfortune and their Coach is keen that momentum is maintained, even with this evening’s trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.

“We respect them, but we want to make our presence felt,” commented Argentine Bielsa in his pre-match Press conference.

The tactician will be without Oscar De Marcos, Inigo Perez and Ander Herrera and, whilst Fernando Amorebieta has travelled, Bielsa admitted that it was more ‘out of necessity’ and he is also unlikely to feature through injury.

“This does not mean we will be abandoning the way we play. Moreover, we cannot replace our main ideas so quickly, which have always been maintained.

“We always try to play. If against a team like Real Madrid you do not lose the ball in midfield because you avoid going through it, then that is most common, but you will not get the balls with which to fight back – the opponents will have the ball much longer because their passing over long areas is more accurate and effective.

“They negate counterattacking opportunities, but provide many balls to the attack. So that solves one problem and creates another.

“The solution is the hardest thing, to play and not lose. They have answers to the various problems that may arise in games. They are a direct team when there is the space and when their options are reduced they are resourceful.”

Bielsa also commented on the focus going into the game on the referee, in light of recent visits to the Bernabeu producing a number of red cards and some contentious decisions against Athletic.

“We must try not to deserve the refereeing decisions that can define the game, such as red cards, penalties or playing a game with many players booked.

“Refereeing errors are not a determining factor overall. At the end of the year they usually balance out in terms of justice and if not, bad luck.”

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