‘Eibar mustn’t intimidate Athletic’

Ernesto Valverde is urging Athletic Bilbao not to let Eibar “change” their style of play too much ahead of Saturday’s Basque derby.

A run of just one victory in their last five La Liga games has seen Athletic drop out of the top six, but standing in their way of a return to winning ways are fellow Basques Eibar, who go into the match two places above Los Leones in seventh.

“They have a tendency to play longer balls because they know they’ll win the aerial battles,” the Coach said at a Press conference.

“Lately, it’s been more so. Now we have to look at other alternatives, but we can’t change too much.

“Kepa Arrizabalaga will play, but he’s not match-sharp. The Copa and Europa League? It depends on his performance.

“Eibar are getting very good results away from Ipurua, and they’re a team with a lot of intensity that try to play in the attacking half and don’t hide.

“They show their faces and reflect their Coach Mendilibar. At home or away, they always want to win and take the initiative, so it’ll be difficult because they’ll be tight in the attacking half and make you play long balls.

“Plus, it’s a derby and we know that [a derby] involves more emotional character.

“We missed an opportunity against Las Palmas and now we’re going to push on in these three important games against big rivals so we’re in a good position before the winter break.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde