‘Athletic want win for the fans’

Ernesto Valverde wants Athletic Bilbao to end their Europa League group stage campaign with a win to give the fans something to be happy about.

The Basques have won Group L as they lead Partizan Belgrade by three points and, even if Athletic lose to AZ Alkmaar and the Serbians beat Augsburg, they’ll retain first place on the head-to-head record.

“It’s an international competition and you always play for something. It’s not the same to win as to not win,” Valverde told a Press conference, AS reports.

“We take every game seriously and this one too. It’s clearly not the same as when you play for a lot, but we are reliable in this regard. [The goal is] to win and give the fans something to enjoy.”

Athletic face Atletico Madrid on Sunday and Valverde was asked about the trip to Vicente Calderon, and the impact the European tie could have on the fixture.

“Although there are only three days [between games] the feelings often depend on what you did in the last game, and winning always makes you feel better,” he argued.

“There’ll be changes [against AZ] because it’s a tough game [against Atletico]. But I hate to focus on the players who have played less and have the whole world watching. I want players who are calm but focused.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde