New era beckons for Bilbao under Valverde

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde has hinted he will impose a different style of football on his team for the coming season than his predecessor Marcelo Bielsa.

Ernesto Valverde, Athletic Bilbao

 

The Argentinian turned Athletic into one of the most attacking sides in Spain but parted ways with the club at the end of last season following a disappointing second campaign, in which his side finished 12th in the Primera Division and had the fourth worst defensive record in the league.

In a press conference before Athletic's first game of the new campaign, away to Valladolid, Valverde outlined a more conservative approach than Bielsa.

"I want my team to create chances, because that's where goals will come from, but not at the cost of conceding them," he said.

The former Valencia boss added that his side were in the right physical condition for the new season and looking forward to getting started.

"We all know what we are are playing for and we're ready to face the first game," he said.

Athletic's top scorer from last season, Aritz Aduriz, will miss the game due to suspension, meaning new signing Kike Sola is likely to make his competitive debut for the club, as is midfielder Benat Etxeberria, who joined from Real Betis.

With the exception of Aduriz and the injured Mikel San Jose, Athletic have a full squad to choose from.

Former Valladolid full-back Mikel Balenziaga is set to face the club he left little over two months ago and said the occasion would be "very special".

Like Valverde, Valladolid boss Juan Ignacio Martinez will be coaching his side for the first time in a competitive game tomorrow.

The former Levante coach admitted that his number one priority for the season was to avoid relegation, but stressed his side had "a lot of virtues and players with a lot of technical quality".

Jimenez's only injury concerns for the match are Daniel Larsson and Victor Perez, who have both been ruled out of the fixture.

 



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