Ernesto Valverde has warned Athletic Bilbao that Espanyol will want revenge for their Copa del Rey exit during Sunday’s La Liga meeting.
The Basques set up a Camp Nou final with Barcelona on May 30 courtesy of their two-legged triumph over Los Periquitos last month, and the Coach believes his side will have their work cut out when they rematch this weekend.
“Espanyol will want revenge [for their Copa exit],” he said at a Press conference.
“This game will be different because [our last meeting] was a final result.
“The tension overshadowed the atmosphere and we travelled [to Cornella-El Prat] on the back of a draw in the first leg.
“Now we start from 0-0 and both teams will try to win, but with more freedom and less stress.
“We dealt with the pressure [in the Copa semi-finals] well and it showed our strength.
“I was surprised [by Espanyol’s win at Villarreal], not because they triumphed against a team of a very high level or had sufficient resources to win, but because of the ruthlessness in their finishing.
“I think the Copa result [a 2-0 defeat in the second leg] affected them because they went four games without a win after that, but Espanyol have potential.
“They gave a very assured performance against Villarreal with intensity and did a lot of damage.
“We dream of closing the gap on Malaga [in the race for seventh].”