Ernesto Valverde is confident that his much-changed Athletic Bilbao will not lose their competitive edge when they travel to Villarreal on Sunday.
Nine of the players who started against Augsburg on Thursday, including goalscorers Markel Susaeta and Aritz Aduriz, have been dropped for the trip to El Madrigal in La Liga, but the Coach is nonetheless backing his troops to deliver the goods.
“Changes must be made because Madrid [Athletic’s next opponents] played [on Saturday] and the schedule is too tight [for us],” he said at a Press conference.
“Nonetheless, the team are always sent out with the idea of maintaining a high competitive level, and we’re prepared for the tough week ahead. We’re optimistic but also cautious [of Villarreal’s front pairing].
“[Villarreal] are a team who play on the counter, defend well and move the ball around very quickly.
“They have four new forwards, but the back and middle are virtually the same, with Trigueros, Pina and Bruno, who – in my opinion – is their most important player.
“Although they are a great team, I think we can have a good game.
“Augsburg’s goal was irregular, but we realise that we’ve set the bar very high and the fans demand a lot of us.
“Still, the match was difficult and I really liked the team’s reaction [to going a goal down].
“[Ander Iturraspe and Inaki Williams] are both doing very well but still have some way to go in their comebacks.”