Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla preview - Emery: We are not challengers

Posted Saturday, November 01, 2014 by PA

Sevilla coach Unai Emery has bluntly dismissed the suggestion his side could challenge for the title this season.

The Andalusian side went joint of the Primera Division last weekend after staging a dramatic and late turnaround to beat Villarreal 2-1 and join Barcelona at the league's summit with 22 points.

But although Emery has guided the club to their best ever start to a league season, the coach does not believe his team have what it takes to sustain a title push.

"Thinking about winning the league now is utopian," he told a press conference, quoted in Marca.

"It's something very far away from reality. What we need to do is live in reality and not on assumptions. Neither me nor the players will gain anything by dreaming of something so distant."

Next up for Emery's record breakers is a trip to Bilbao to face an Athletic side who have endured a contrasting season to the league leaders.

The Basques have taken just eight points from their nine games, but are buoyed after beating Almeria away from home last weekend to pick up their first win in almost two months.

Athletic took the points thanks to Xabier Etxeita's scrappy second-half goal in an otherwise unconvincing performance, but coach Ernesto Valverde believes his side have gained a large chunk of morale after the win.

"Wins like that give you a big sense of relief, no matter how you get them," he told a press conference.

"We're not going to beat ourselves up when we win as well as when we lose. It was a bad game from our point of view, but we won it, which is what we had set out to do. We are in no doubt that we can play better than we did in Almeria, but seeing as everything is so black when we don't win we're going to pay ourselves a small tribute because we won and ended a bad run."

Valvderde shares Emery's pessimism about Sevilla's chances of winning the title, but believes the Andalusians will give them a tough game at San Mames.

He said: "They have a team with a lot of potential due to their strike power and strong defence. Also, Emery is a coach that is always pushing his players, he is a great motivator and the fact they've got these results at the start of the season is only going to make them stronger."

Sevilla have been dealt a setback with the news midfielder Vicente Iborra will miss the next month because of an ankle injury, adding to the absence of attacking midfielder Vitolo, out with a torn hamstring.

Athletic, meanwhile, have all their players available.

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