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Athletic Bilbao striker Villalibre admits players still adjusting to Valverde methods

Athletic Bilbao striker Asier Villalibre says the players are still adjusting to coach Ernesto Valverde's methods.

Athletic meet Valencia this weekend on the back of last week's 0-0 draw with Real Mallorca for their LaLiga opener.

"It's going to be a tough match for us, but we've got to stick to what we've been doing," Villalibre said at a pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon.

"We've got to keep trying to create chances, defend well and put them under pressure. Valencia are coming in strong. We know that they'll be a physically powerful team."

After spending much of last season on the sidelines due to a string of hamstring issues, the no.20 admitted to being slightly nervous when he saw his name among the starting XI against RCD Mallorca for the first match of LaLiga 2022/23.

He said: "I was a bit nervous when I found out I was going to be a starter, because I hadn't been for such a long time. But I didn't give it any special thought. I was excited and I was looking forward to it. It was the first league match, with the new stand. I was very happy."

Villalibre had a strong pre-season, managing to score five goals in four appearances, something which he said helped his confidence.

"After such a complicated year, having a pre-season like that was a big morale boost. Coming off the back of a difficult year and coming through it feeling good is very positive."

As for the LaLiga opener, the centre-forward was content with the overall performance, but accepted that Mallorca's defence was hard to breakdown.

"On a personal level, it was a difficult match. There wasn't a lot of space and I struggled to find good positions," he added. "We were able to create a lot of chances but they defended well and with a lot of people.

"It's a bittersweet feeling, because I think in general we played quite well. Defensively we were good, they only had one decent chance against us and for most of the game we were in and around their area.

"We were just missing a goal, but overall we felt good."



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