"We have had our best week of training since the season began. The last three sessions were of a very high level."

"Valverde and Athletic, we know them very well. They can make things difficult for us in different facets of the game."

"They are a difficult team, they create a lot of pressure. They're not going to give us two seconds on the ball to relax."

"They got off to a bit of a bad start. There's also the fact they were playing in the Champions League, which puts a lot of demands on the squad. I think that possibly had an effect on them."

"But I've always been a big fan of Athletic Bilbao's football and their philosophy and I think their performances have improved."

"It's always difficult to play at Bilbao so we're going to have to play very well to get through this game."

"They are very dangerous in the air and from set-pieces. Playing away from home is always more difficult and they will make it hard for us.

"There is still a long way to play and there are always going to be surprises, with the big teams dropping points against smaller teams that simply weren't expected."

"You can say that we're four points behind Madrid and yes that's difficult, but it's certainly not insurmountable. It's up to us to get better results than Real Madrid."