Bielsa: Lyon clash a must-win
Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa says Thursday's Europa League group game at Lyon is a must-win if his side were to repeat last season's success in the competition.
The Basque side, who saw off Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Schalke 04 on the way to last season's final, currently lie joint bottom of Group I with just one point from two games after losing 3-1 last time out at Sparta Prague.
Bielsa told reporters at Lyon's Stade Gerland that his team needed to regain their form of last term if they wanted to progress to this season's knock-out stages.
"To have aspirations we need to win three of the four games which are left," Bielsa said. "We do not have enough opportunities to let one pass. The objective tomorrow is to be at the level of our best productions, taking into account the quality of our opponent."
The Argentine coach said his team would have to improve on their performance at Valencia in La Liga last Sunday, when Athletic lost 3-2 to two late goals after having seen midfielder Ander Herrera sent off while 2-1 ahead.
"It is difficult to win when a team does not attack well or defend well against quality opponents," he said.
There was some positive defensive news for Athletic fans is the return of left-back Jon Aurtenetxe to the starting line-up after five months out, while Bielsa also confirmed that Carlos Gurpegui would come in for Borja Ekiza at centre-half.
However, last year's star striker Fernando Llorente looks likely to remain on the bench, given Aritz Aduriz's double strike against Valencia and Bielsa's preference for one central striker.
"(Llorente) is available, fully fit," the Argentine coach said, shortly.