Athletic Bilbao boss Marcelino says he wants his side to display “intensity” as they aim to get closer to the top seven of La Liga when they face Espanyol (Match betting – Athletic Bilbao 8/13, draw 11/4, Espanyol 9/2).
Bilbao are looking to get back into European competition after three seasons away and are currently four points adrift of Real Sociedad in seventh.
They have enjoyed a good season so far, aided by their exceptionally strong defensive record.
With just 17 goals conceded, they have the second most miserly defence in the league, a record bettered by only Sevilla.
Bilbao could make it four wins in a row in all competitions against a Sevilla side who have been inconsistent of late, and Marcelino wants to see “intensity” from his team.
“We must play every game with the maximum intensity,” the boss said at a pre-match press conference in Lezama.
“That’s the motto we must take into every match and we need to show that attitude no matter which opponent we’re facing or which competition we’re playing in.
“Our mentality should always be to win and play well, whether we’re playing Espanyol in La Liga or Real Madrid in the Copa.”
Meanwhile, in Italy, there is a big match at the bottom of the Serie A table as Salernitana desperately try and salvage some positivity against a Spezia (Match betting – Salernitana 2/1, draw 9/4, Spezia 29/20) side who have enjoyed a great month.
The hosts are ten points off safety and need to start winning games fast, though they face Spezia side who have escaped the drop zone themselves after winning four of their last five.
Stefano Colantuono was very active in the January transfer window, with no fewer than 12 players heading to the club to try and steer them to safety.
Signings include former Argentina internationals Diego Perotti and Federico Fazio as well as Sheffield United forward Lys Mousset on loan.
The boss is hoping the dozen arrivals will usher in a new sense of positivity.
“Many new players have arrived from the January transfer market and now a new championship is starting for us,” he said.
“Spezia is a team that has done very well in the last period and must be respected but we have to play our chances and start winning games to reach salvation.”
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