Valverde: ‘Basque derby is special’

Ernesto Valverde says the Basque derby games between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are always special occasions.

The pair clash at San Mames on Tuesday night and Los Leones boss Valverde is hoping his players can take all three points as they look to move into seventh place and a European spot at the expense of Malaga.

“Derbies are always special games as they are so open and unpredictable, but what matters right now is the result as a win gives us the opportunity to overtake Malaga,” Valverde told a Press conference.

“We know what these games are all about but it’s been a while since we won. When we met last season we had already qualified for the Champions League and were held to a draw, but there are a lot of emotional factors that come into play in a match like this.

“Both sides are desperate to win. Perhaps there is a little more at stake for us and I’m expecting it to be hectic like always.”

Valverde also commented on David Moyes’ influence on Real Sociedad compared to his predecessor Jagoba Arrasate.

“La Real appear very similar to the team they were last season but not in terms of results. Last year they were in the Champions League and finished seventh so they had a great season.

“Their style of play is different and they’ve had a good spell but are now starting to look a little tired. I think being without Carlos Vela has affected them, although he’s played a couple of games since coming back.

“I get the impression they are trying to be more compact and at Anoeta this season they put us under pressure right from the kick-off. That made it difficult for us to bring the ball out from the back.

“This is going to be an intense game and I don’t think they will put a lot of men behind the ball. I doubt they’ll have a couple of players waiting on the halfway line and detached from the rest of the team.

“That’s why they play with [David] Zurutuza as a deep-lying forward in order to maintain the team’s shape and connect with Chory Castro and Vela up front,” he explained.

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