A second-string Celta Vigo are set to do battle with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, but Ernesto Valverde is refusing to think his side “will have it any easier”.
Celta have their first-ever European semi-final on Thursday, against English giants Manchester United, so a host of regulars – including top Spanish goalscorer Iago Aspas – are likely to be rested.
“A La Liga game is never a mere formality, neither is any football game to my understanding,” Coach Eduardo Berizzo told reporters.
“A Primera player never disregards a game, they always play to win.
“No matter which game it is, it’s important to show everyone that they’re watching Primera players.”
Athletic, on the other hand, have a full squad to choose from at Balaidos, making them well equipped to “go beyond 65 points” in the race for La Liga’s top six, according to Valverde.
“They will rest players because Thursday’s game is historic for them, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to have it any easier,” explained their trainer.
“If we think that way, it’ll be our game to lose. Celta won’t gift us anything, it’ll be an intense match.
“They’ll demand a lot of us. We’ve dropped back to seventh and we want to regain sixth place and put ourselves within sight of Villarreal.
“Last year, it took 62 points to finish fifth and this year, 64 won’t be enough for fifth or even sixth.
“We’ll have to go beyond 65. We’re all rushing in this final sprint.”
Celta Vigo (probable): Sergio; Lemos, Sergi Gomez, Roncaglia, Jonny; Jozabed, Radoja; Hjulsager, Wass, Bongonda; Beauvue
Injuries/suspensions: Cabral (S) Rossi (I) Marcelo Diaz (S) Pablo Hernandez (S) Pape Cheikh (doubtful) Planas (I) Blanco (I)
Athletic Bilbao (probable): Kepa; De Marcos, Yeray, Laporte, Balenziaga; Benat, Iturraspe; Williams, Raul Garcia, Muniain; Aduriz
Referee: Fernandez Borbalan
Form guide: Celta (L L W L L) Athletic (W W W L W)
Previous meeting: Celta 2-4 Athletic
Kick-off time: 19:45 BST/20:45 CET