Athletic Club played their final home game of the season on Sunday when they hosted Leganes at the San Mames. Things didn’t quite go as planned though, with the match ended in a 1-1 draw. The campaign comes to a close with the Lions having only lost twice at home in all competitions, but a victory would have really helped their chances of qualifying for Europe. Following the game, Ernesto Valverde spoke to the media and made it clear that they missed an opportunity.“There were moments when the play was thick and we needed to relax a little more. We also have to give credit to Leganes because their gameplay was effective. In the first half we dominated, although in the beginning of the second half they started better and caused us problems. They did not generate much, but they caught us too far apart in our defensives lines and were able to tie the game. They have taken a step forward for their goals and we did not. We tried to take initiative but we were not able to develop much after they tied the score. Their change in tactics after scoring was noticeable. They were better than us after that point.”
Valverde went on to say that Athletic has, arguably, the more difficult final game among the three clubs battling for the top six. He also refused to comment on his future at the club, but did admit that it was nice to hear the fans chanting for him to stay in Bilbao.
“On paper our match is the most difficult. Playing Atletico in the Calderon is not easy, but Villarreal has a derby against Valencia and Real travels to Vigo. The good thing is that the best outcome depends on ourselves on the last day. We had a special moment bidding farewell to Gorka, but the rest of us still have to compete. I heard the fans chanting “Valverde stay” and that was nice to hear. I have the recognition of the fans and I am happy about how things are. The public has been with the team and I am sorry that we could not end with a victory like we did with Iraola and Gurpegui. There is no doubt that I want to break all the records that I can, and as soon as possible. So next week we will have a chance.”
Athletic Club will play their final game of the season next weekend when they travel to take on Atletico Madrid in the last game ever at the Vicente Calderon. The Lions are currently tied with Real Sociedad for sixth place in the table, though the Lions do hold the tiebreaker due to their head to head matches this year. If Athletic can at least remain level following next weekend’s matches, they will officially qualify for the Europa League.