Monday August 18 2014
Valverde: No Athletic fear

Athletic Coach Ernesto Valverde promises his side will show no fear when they face Napoli at San Paolo tomorrow.

The Spanish outfit are in Italy to take on Rafa Benitez’s side in the first leg of the teams’ Champions League play-off tie.

Speaking at a Press conference ahead of the crucial encounter, the tactician stressed the need for his team to find the right balance between posing a threat to their opponents and negating the strengths of the Partenopei.

“We know they have very important players on the counter-attack – Callejon, Mertens, Insigne and Higuain,” Valverde said.

“If you give them the initiative, they will take the game away from you.

“In a tie like this, any bad moment you have over the two matches can get you knocked out.

“One quick free-kick, which they are good at, or one bad piece of marking can mean you are knocked out. We need to be alert.

“We are very excited, it’s clear that we have a lot of responsibility with a lot of people supporting us.

“Last year, we earned this in the League. There is pressure for both us and Napoli.

“We need to focus on what Napoli are doing, but most of all on what we are doing. We need to look for a balance.”

Valverde then spoke highly of Napoli counterpart Rafa Benitez and said Athletic would do everything they could to score an away goal tomorrow night.

“They know our strengths and Napoli know ours. I don’t know [who are favourites]. If we take into account the immediate past, it would be Napoli, who played in the Champions League last year and we have gone many years without it.

“It’s no advantage to be favourites. It’s an open tie and it will be difficult for us and them.

“He [Benitez] is an example to all of us for his results at the teams he has been at. He knows us well, I know that Benitez rates us.

“He knows Athletic, he knows the club we are and our stadium. He will assess us and prepare the match well.

 “We know the value of scoring an away goal and we will try to do that. We can’t pin all our hopes on the second leg.

“I will be the same Coach after this tie whether we win or lose. We will approach it with no fear.”