Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde suggested influential striker Aritz Aduriz will not be fit for the club’s next game after his side slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid.
Aduriz was sidelined for the visit of La Liga’s second-placed team due to a pulled hamstring and Athletic missed his presence in attack as they struggled to break down a resolute Atletico defence on Wednesday.
Valverde was left to reflect on a game in which Athletic dictated the play for long periods but failed to carve out many clear opportunities to score.
“It has been a difficult game. We didn’t want them to lead the game,” he said.
“We had attempts and we bossed the match. However, after their goal we didn’t have enough opportunities.
“Bossing the match doesn’t depend on possession of the ball; it depends on the team which has more attempts.
“Atletico is one of the strongest teams in the league, with a solid defence and good individual players.”
Athletic’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League by finishing fourth in La Liga now look slim, and if they are to stand any chance of keeping pace with Villarreal they will need 17-goal striker Aduriz fit again.
But, looking ahead to his side’s forthcoming fixture against Levante, Valverde said: “I’m pretty sure Aduriz won’t be ready for Sunday’s match.”