Tito Vilanova: “Athletic Bilbao will play the same way they did last season”

Tito Vilanova avisa del perill de l'Athletic Club / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Barça boss warned that Bilbao continue to be a tough team to beat – just as they were last season – and insisted: “they still play a very intense game”

No date for Abidal return

Éric Abidal trained apart from the rest of the squad this morning alongside Marc Bartra and Alexis Sánchez and Tito Vilanova explained: “Abidal’s case is different from any other injured player. It’s true that we are progressing, but it’s an exceptional situation and we can’t give any exact date as to when he will be back. He’s been with us for a few days and today’s training was just like any other day – he did nothing different”.

“They still play a very intense game and they will make it a difficult game for us”

Despite their poor start to this season, that sees them out of Europe and sitting down in 14th place, Tito Vilanova believes that Bilbao” play in the same way they did last season”, in spite of losing Xavi Martinez and relegating Fernando Llorente to the bench. “they still play a very intense game and they will make it a difficult game for us”.

“Madrid aren’t out of it”

Tito also made it clear that the 11 point difference with Real Madrid was certainly not definitive, claiming: “they aren’t out of it yet”. He then answered questions about Saturday’s Madrid derby but insisted: “we just have to focus on Bilbao – everything else is out of our hands. You are talking about ending the weekend 14 points ahead, but it could just as easily be eight”.

A win on Saturday would mean Barça would break the record for the best start to a league campaign and Tito commented: “it’s not normal that we are winning so many games and we have to be ready for when we lose one!”.

“The Ballon D’Or won’t distract us”

The boss also insisted that all the publicity surrounding the Ballon D’Or awards would not affect the team on Saturday: “you’ve been asking me about this award since my first game in charge. We are happy for the Club and our two players, both of whom learnt their trade here. We’d love either of them to win and I am sure whoever does carry it off will deserve it”. The award for best coach has three candidates -Pep Guardiola, Vicente del Bosque and José Mourinho and Tito made it clear that for him: “all three of them deserve to be there”.