Valencia not out for revenge vs. Athletic Bilbao - Gary Neville
Valencia coach Gary Neville said he is not out for revenge in Thursday evening's Europa League last-16 first leg at Athletic Bilbao.
Los Che were beaten 3-0 by Athletic at their Mestalla stadium in late February, with Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde appearing to get the better of Neville with late substitutions, while Valencia also lost 3-1 at San Mames in October in their other La Liga meeting this term when Nuno Espiritu Santo was coach.
The former Manchester United defender told his prematch news conference in Bilbao that he expected the result to be different this time -- and the scoreline in their last meeting had not accurately reflected what had happened in the game.
"I would not say we want revenge, each game is different, and this is over two legs," Neville said. "The game at Mestalla was very tight, we could have won it 2-0. Athletic played well but not to win 3-0. People focus a lot on that game, but this will be different. There will be a good atmosphere, but we must be positive, have confidence and give everything."
Neville is without winger Denis Cheryshev who picked up a thigh injury after scoring in the weekend's 1-3 home defeat to Atletico Madrid, having impressed recently with winning goals against Espanyol and Malaga, but who is now facing about a month on the sidelines.
Combative midfielder Enzo Perez is also missing with his own ongoing muscle issues, while there is also a local derby at city-rivals Levante at Sunday lunchtime to think about as Los Che's XI for the game is decided.
"For us the Europa League is the most important as it is the next game," Neville said. "With games every three or four days, we have been playing well lately. This is the type of game you want as a player and as a coach. We want to return with a good result, to show confidence and play well for the full game."
Questions from local reporters over Neville's changing his mind regarding a late substitution in last weekend's defeat to Athletic had some pundits claiming that the rookie coach bowed to pressure from fans. The comments annoyed the former England assistant coach.
"I have nothing to add about the substitution on Sunday," Neville said. "I had not seen they had sent off [Aderlan] Santos, I was talking with Alvaro [Negredo] to send him on and I changed my mind when the sending off happened. There was a moment of confusion. We were thinking for some minutes. I have the right to do that. When we lose it always seems there is something to pick on, we had played well for 70 minutes. This is something absurd which had not effect at all on the result."