Athletic Bilbao coach Valverde: Special facing Iraola's Rayo Vallecano

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde expects a battle against Rayo Vallecano.

Valverde says he expects “a tough game, nice to watch and different”.

He said, “The way we play and the way they play, it will be a tough game for both of us, but nice to watch. The game will be different to the other games played previously at La Catedral. Rayo sometimes give you distance, but they will certainly put pressure on us higher up the pitch and create chances.”

Asked about Athletic Club’s results so far at San Mamés, he continued: “We have room for improvement. It’s true that we haven’t had the results or the goalscoring streak that we want to have at San Mames. We are working hard to improve our numbers at home. Despite the fact that the opposition will make it difficult for us, we have another chance tomorrow to get three points in front of our home fans.”

Valverde will be facing Andoni Iraola for the first time as coach, a former Lion, who Valverde gave his debut on the same day that he made his debut on the red and white bench.

The coach has acknowledged that the team led by Iraola will be a tough nut to crack: “It’s not just another match. It’s the first time I’ve faced Andoni, with whom I’ve shared many years, who I know well and who knows me well. Generally, both at home and away, it’s always a tough clash, but with a special affinity between the fans. Iraola has not only had me as his coach, he is an intelligent person and he will use what he likes most about each of them. Andoni’s team is recognisable, they press you up front, they are brave and close the spaces inside and try to control the game.”