Valverde praises ‘ambitious’ Sporting

Ernesto Valverde has urged Athletic Bilbao to be wary of Sporting Gijon when they host the “ambitious” new boys on Monday.

Los Leones could make it three successive games unbeaten for the first time this season if they avoid defeat to the Asturians, but the Coach believes his side have their work cut out, reserving a particular onus on Barcelona loanee Alen Halilovic.

“[Sporting] are a team I like. I see many similarities between them and us,” he said at a Press conference.

“They’re a young team, but their [economic] crisis has made them look even more towards their youth system. They have their own identity.

“I see them as having many of the qualities that we have – drive and solidarity.

“It’ll be a difficult match on Monday as Sporting play with a lot of rhythm and great intensity.

"I base [my analysis] of them on the spirit they have. I think they’ve had a good start to the season for a newly-promoted team.

“They’re well organised and when they attack, they do so in numbers.

“More than anything else, however, they never lose face in matches, both at home and away.

“They always try to attack and harm you. They’re not a cagey team, but an ambitious one.

“Still, we need a win to move up the table so we can raise our expectations.

“It was important to reinforce ourselves and gain momentum against Partizan [a 2-0 win last Thursday] after drawing a game we had practically won [the 2-2 at Deportivo La Coruna].

“I’m not surprised [about Benat Etxeberria’s recent rise] because he had some great performances last season.

“Like Xabier Etxeita, he’s a player who has been working steadily in the shade for a long time and took his opportunity in the limelight when it came. Now, everyone sees the great job he’s doing.

“[Alen Halilovic] makes his presene known. He releases the ball to his teammates quickly and is capable of scoring when he’s near the box.

“He and Sporting are a good fit for each other. He’s excelling in a team who are doing well.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde
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