Valverde: Athletic want fifth

Ernesto Valverde has insisted that Athletic Bilbao “are going for fifth” in La Liga to avoid any summer qualifiers ahead of Sunday’s trip to Celta Vigo.

Athletic, like Celta, have confirmed their presence in European competition next season but now have three games to ensure they will not have to participate in the playoffs, with their Week 36 opponents holding a two-point lead on fifth place. 

“We’re going for [fifth]. If you’re fifth, you always have more prestige and don’t need to play any qualifiers, which is what we want,” the Coach said at a Press conference.

“There wouldn’t be any risk of losing the qualifiers if we ended up in fifth.

“We’re fortunate to experience a game like this, with two teams having already qualified and playing to improve their positions.

“I always thought Celta would finish near the top because they have enough quality [to do so].

“We’re two teams who play on the attack and it seems like it’ll be an end-to-end game, but I don’t think it will be so much.

“We’re also two teams who try to bother our opponents and we have to make it uncomfortable for them, which is how we’ll win [at Balaidos].

“[On the issue of young players coming through], in our B team, there are players who are doing well and have also been with us [in the first team].

“Still, there’s a degree of difficulty for them because when players make the jump, they must stabilise themselves first.

“With all these kinds of things, you have to be cautious. We see the [younger] players and can make projections, but it’s they who have to adapt because the demands are so great.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde