Athletic Club will travel on Friday to take on Villarreal in what can only be classified as a must win. The Lions currently sit 6th in the La Liga table, one point away from their hosts. Whoever comes out victorious on Friday will take a huge step towards achieving their goals. Ernesto Valverde gave his pregame press conference on Thursday and praised his side’s ability to get through 3 games in 6 days, while also saying that the matchup with Villarreal has become a classic.
“We will be completing a very busy week, with several important matches in a short time. Everyone will be available for us again. The first two have been victories, but the one tomorrow has a twist. Whoever wins tomorrow will take a very important step forward. We have come back to where we want to be in the table by cutting the distances with other clubs. Villarreal recovered from their stumble against Eibar by beating Betis. This matchup is becoming a classic because the two teams have been very even ins event years. We are fighting for the same things.”
Valverde went on to discuss Villarreal as a team. Txingurri highlighted the performances of Bruno who runs the midfield and also made it clear that Bakambu and Roberto Soldado can be deadly if given the space to use their immense pace.
“They [Villarreal] like to keep the same eleven and play perfectly with a 4-4-2. Everything revolves around Bruno, that is clear. They work well with space, especially Soldado and Bakambu. They are fast forwards who can create danger from any vertical ball. You have to respect their pace and what they can do. Villarreal is also strong defensively. They have given up 23 goals in the league, which is fewer than anyone else.”
Athletic Club would move up to 5th place with a win over Villarreal, but anything else would keep them in 6th at best. Real Sociedad is still fighting for a top six finish so it will be a tight affair over the remaining eight La Liga matches. Athletic also still have an outside chance of a 4th place finish with Sevilla holding an eight point lead.