Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelino: We must face Valencia with intelligence and focus

Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelino says they must throw everything into tonight’s Copa del Rey semifinal first-leg clash with Valencia.

Athletic take on Los Che at San Mamés on Thursday night (21:30 CET) and the return leg will be played at Mestalla on March 2.

“We have to think that this is the most important match,” Marcelino said at a pre-match press conference on Wednesday evening.

“It’s the most immediate objective, and one in which we can gain the upper hand. We have to play with intelligence and focus. We know that San Mamés will help us.

“Tomorrow we have a great opportunity to secure an advantage so we can be a little bit more relaxed when we go to Valencia.”

Marcelino went on to say that the Lions are looking good in training and he is confident they can get a result with the help of a lively San Mamés.

He added: “We’re going to try and win. We’re playing at San Mamés in front of the magnificent Athletic fans. What is certain is that these will be two huge spectacles on two great stages.

“We want to be in the final, we’re working towards that and we’ll do everything we can to make it happen. We’re not thinking about anything other than tomorrow’s match against Valencia.”

Valencia are 11th in LaLiga Santander with 23 points, while they knocked out Cádiz CF in the quarter finals of the Copa. Marcelino warned the 2018/19 Copa champions will be “tough to beat”.

“It will be a very different game to the ones that got us this far,” the boss said. “Valencia have a specific style of play, they’ll force us to be brave in duels and we’ll have to develop our attack from our own half.

“They’re a solid team and we’ll try to attack before they can retreat into a defensive block. It will be an intense game with a lot of stops in play.

“We’ll have to be clinical in both areas and play smartly.”

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