MADRID (Reuters) - Athletic Bilbao have no chance of making the Champions League knockout round if there is any repeat of Tuesday’s poor display at BATE Borisov, warned coach Ernesto Valverde.
Appearing in the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition for only a second time, Bilbao had high hopes of progressing from a Group H that also includes Portuguese side Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine.
However, a 0-0 draw at home to Shakhtar in their opening game and Tuesday’s 2-1 reverse means defeat at Porto in their next outing on Oct. 21 will likely end their chances of making it through to the last 16.
BATE, thrashed 6-0 at Porto in their opener, were the deserved winners at their new Borisov Arena and squandered numerous chances to extend their lead in the second half.
“BATE were more composed and self-assured, while we couldn’t start well,” a grim-faced Valverde told a news conference.
“Previously I wasn’t happy with our displays but I was satisfied with our attitude,” added the former Bilbao striker.
“Now I‘m concerned with both. We still have chances to progress out of the group, but it’s impossible with a display like this.”
Valverde said he wasn’t expecting BATE to bounce back so strongly after the Porto drubbing and he was annoyed they had shown more intensity than Bilbao, a traditional strength of the Basque side.
“We couldn’t start strongly enough, while BATE did, but it is our bad form that stopped us playing with the intensity needed,” he added.
”We were overwhelmed in an area that was our strength -- a powerful start. I‘m disappointed.
”They were stronger, especially in the tackle -- we just didn’t get going.
“They took the initiative and they made us pay when we lost the ball. What’s happening now is tough to take and we know we have to improve.”
Bilbao finished fourth in La Liga last term but have also made a poor start in the domestic league and are 16th after six games and without a win in six matches in all competitions.
They have little time to dwell on Tuesday’s defeat before a trip to play Real Madrid on Sunday and striker Aritz Aduriz called for a radical improvement.
“Nothing worked,” Aduriz, who pulled a goal back for the visitors shortly before halftime to make it 2-1, told reporters.
”We were poor. They were better than us in everything, in running, in pressuring, in everything.
“We cannot play like this. We have to turn this around quickly. It cannot go on in this way.”
Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Amlan Chakraborty