Ernesto Valverde’s future has been the main topic of discussion in Bilbao for several months now. A recent report stated that he had informed President Josu Urrutia that he would not be returning for next season, but Txingurri has refuted those claims. In his pregame press conference on Saturday, Valverde said that those reports are not true at all.“It is not true that I have told the President that I am leaving after this season, I’m saying this to clear things up. We will discuss that topic later. When we have discussed and made a decision we will let everyone know. Everyone is free to make speculations, but that is the truth. The season has not ended and we are trying to get back into Europe. That is what matters the most to me, the fans, and everyone at the club.”
Valverde then turned his attention to Eibar, saying that Monday’s game will be very complicated. Their opponents have been strong at home this season and their stadium can contribute to their pressing style of play.
“Mendilibar is going to tighten the team. It is going to be a complicated matches because they have good numbers at home. They score a lot of goals, concede very little, and have a strong defense that spreads you out. In addition, it is a narrower field and favors the pressure that can make you uncomfortable. It is a Derby and the winner will take an important step forward, but it is not definitive. They have a lot of danger on the right wing with Pedro Leon, Capa, and Arbilla. They are all very productive. The entire team is playing well and is very ambitious. They are difficult to overcome and will try to squeeze us.”In closing, Valverde once again lamented playing several games in one week. However, he did mention that Benat and Balenziaga have recovered from their muscle problems. For now, Valverde is solely focused on Athletic Club and that is all that he wants to discuss.
“The preparations never end. We have a lot of people in training and things will get difficult. Having three games in a week squeezes you like a can of sardines. We have recovered the annoyances of Benat and Balenziaga and we want to get through the week with no injuries. I train this team, I have trained this team, and I will continue training them. The season is not over and we need to compete. I’m glad people think they can learn something from me. Gurpegui and Orbaiz are taking the coaching course. What are my predictions for El Clasico? I’m sure no the Barca and Madrid coaches are not being asked about Eibar and Athletic, which is the match of the meet for me.”
Athletic Club is unbeaten in Basque Derbies this season and they will need to keep that going if they are to qualify for Europe once again. They currently hold a three point lead over Eibar in the La Liga table, so a victory on Monday could almost clinch their place in Europe next season. The Ipurua is a formidable stadium and the Lions haven’t been at their best on the road this season, but the entire squad is available and everyone knows the important of a win.