Valverde: Athletic not under pressure

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde has dismissed suggestions that being in a Champions League is putting extra pressure on his side as they prepare to face Sevilla.

Athletic Bilbao's forward Iker Muniain (C)

Athletic are currently fourth in the Primera Division standings, 11 points adrift of leaders Barcelona and second-placed Atletico Madrid and eight behind Real Madrid who lie in third.

Sevilla return to domestic action after qualifying top of their group in the Europa League with a 2-0 win over Freiburg on Thursday.

Despite his side's position in the table, with this weekend's opposition flying high in the continental competition, Valverde is expecting a tough match and a clash of styles.

"We do not look too much at the position because we have not even completed the first round, but it strengthens us to be there," Valverde told Marca when quizzed about Athletic's fourth place.

"Typically at the end of the season are up aspiring to the European positions, or the Champions League for sure.

"We've had many changes, but are gaining stability. We are trying to dominate and (Sevilla coach Unai) Emery likes his team to play well.

"I believe there will be a clash of styles and it will be a very tough game."

Athletic were boosted ahead of the clash as defender Andoni Iraola signed a contract extension on Thursday which will keep him at the club until June 2017.

Sevilla, meanwhile, are in a rich vein of form and are unbeaten in their last seven games across all competitions.

Centre back Federico Fazio revealed that confidence in the Los Rojiblancos squad is high.

"We have a big squad and ultimately, whoever plays, it does well. That's good for the group," he said on the club's official website.

"We continue to compete and grow in the way we have been doing in recent games."



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