Athletic Club will travel to Vigo on Sunday to take on Celta de Vigo in what will be a difficult La Liga match. Their hosts will be competing against Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday, so manager Eduardo Berizzo will rest a few key players. Still, Ernesto Valverde says it will be a tight game no matter who starts for Celta.
“Celta Vigo will rest some players because Thursday is a historic game for them, but that doesn’t mean our game will be any easier. If we start to think that, we will lose. Celta will not give us anything easy, it will be an intense match. What you have to look at is how an opponent plays, and Celta is different from other clubs. The way to move the ball forward and how they mark is unique regardless of who is playing. Villarreal and Real Sociedad’s win forces a lot out of us. We are back to seventh and we want to recover sixth place and have a shot at Villarreal. We’ve got to be higher. Last year 62 points was enough for fifth and this year 64 won’t even guarantee sixth. We’ve got to get more than 65 and we are sprinting in these final games.”
When asked about Berizzo and the fact that rumors suggest that he could take over for Valverde this summer, the Athletic manager praised the Celta boss. Valverde went on to say that Berizzo’s results speak for themselves and that they have a good relationship due to their recent matches against each other.
“Berizzo is a good coach no matter where he is coaching. During these years we have built a good relationship. I’ve seen Celta grow and have some great seasons. Last year we played some tough games against them. Now they are in the semifinals of the Europa League and went deep in the cup. He is a good coach. They have done well in Europe and it makes you wish you could be doing the same. Last year a penalty shootout eliminated, but we didn’t whip ourselves over it. This year we fell to APOEL because our mistakes were exposed. That was the key.”
Athletic Club currently sit seventh in the La Liga table but can pull to within one point of fifth with a win on Sunday. Having played two games over the last six days, there is a chance that Valverde chooses to rest some players, but he will still field a dangerous lineup. There are only four matches remaining in the calendar and a win on Sunday is desperately needed.