Ernesto Valverde insists that while Saturday’s trip to Athletic Bilbao is ‘special’ for him, “I’m going there to win with Barcelona.”
Valverde returns to Nuevo San Mames for the first time since leaving Athletic for Barca over the summer, but the Coach made it clear he would only greet his former paymasters after the final whistle.
“It’s a special match for me because I know everyone there and we’re united by many things, but tomorrow I’m a rival of theirs and I’m going there to win with my team,” he said at a Press conference.
“Games against Barcelona have always been ones that motivate Athletic a lot and it motivated me too.
“It’s a ‘clasico’ in the League and everyone wants to have the challenge of facing Barça. Now I’m on the other side and we have to push the same as they’ll push us.
“We know that it won’t be easy. There have been many comebacks [at San Mames]. I’m rather looking forward to this game as it’s the first time that I’ll be going to the new San Mames as a visitor.
“You usually greet everyone at the end [of the game]. Before the game, you’re focused on that and winning it.
“Whistles at Iniesta? The more you talk about this, the likelier the opposite happens. It seems that you don’t want it to happen, yet what happens is that it becomes as a tradition.
“It seems like nothing to me. It seems like a random occurrence to me, which the players are above, and I have nothing to say about it.
“They also whistle other players at other stadiums because of other situations, but ultimately they go on to play well. The case with Andres is the same.
“Ziganda under pressure? Regardless of who the Coach is, Athletic have always started slowly.
“They’re in three competitions and it’s not new that they’ve had a difficult start. They’ve had several, very important players pick up injuries.
“Muniain, De Marcos… I see them on a path that’s been difficult at times, but they’re in mid-table and I don’t think they’ll have any problems in the Copa del Rey and the Europa League.”