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Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde: We must not underestimate Mallorca

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde says they're ready for tonight's LaLiga opener against Real Mallorca.

Valverde has offered his impressions ahead of his third spell on the red-and-white bench in the league opener against RCD Mallorca at San Mamés.

"You always feel a bit nervous as the moment approaches because up until now it's been pre-season friendlies, but tomorrow the real season starts, LaLiga, and you're playing for points.

"Then the fact of returning to San Mamés and returning to coach Athletic at home is special and that's the good thing. To have that feeling and to face it with guarantees."

For the Zurigorri coach, there is no doubt about what his team has to do to have a successful season.

"We have to have the intention of being in control of the games. That's what we want both when we have the ball and when we don't have it.

"We have a great asset, especially when we play at home, because our fans will be there to help us. We know that the opposition know that too and we have to take advantage of that.

"We have to get the crowd on our side and win them over with our play. We know what they like and at the same time we have to put it on the pitch."

Finally, Valverde analysed tonight's opponents.

"Mallorca have had a very good pre-season, they have only scored one goal against them, Napoli from the penalty spot.

"They are a team that have found a way of playing in their structure that they are very comfortable with and that is clear.

"They concede almost nothing and on the counter and in strategic situations they are very dangerous and they are going to try to exploit that.

"They were saved from relegation in the last game and they have that confidence and wellbeing that comes from having saved the category when there was a moment when it looked like they had lost it and I think that has strengthened them.

"It's true that they are still waiting to bring in a few more players. They have Javier Aguirre who is a coach I know because we have played against each other many times. I know that his teams have a lot of goals and he transmits a lot of enthusiasm to the group. It will be a tough game."



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