Celta Vigo coach Abel Resino has told his relegation battlers they will need to improve further still if they are to follow up their victories over Real Zaragoza and Levante with another three-point haul against Athletic Bilbao on Friday night.
The Galician outfit had looked on course for an immediate return to the Segunda Division after falling three points adrift at the foot of the table last month following a miserable run of six defeats and one draw in seven games.
However, a 2-1 home win over Zaragoza and a 1-0 triumph at Levante have breathed fresh life into Celta’s survival hopes and they could climb level with 15th-placed Osasuna if they can make it three wins on the trot against Athletic.
Resino has warned his players it will not be easy, though.
He said: “We’re well aware that this game is very important because it’s a key stage of the season.
“I think we’re going to need to give something extra in this game, take it a step up in terms of demands because that is what’s required against this side.”
He added of their 14th-placed opponents: “Athletic’s position in the table does not correspond with their status or their players. It’s a team which dominates many facets of the game and who have a style most similar to Barca.
“They are good in possession, have good touch, link up well and they even have options that Barca don’t have, such as the aerial play of (Aritz) Aduriz and (Fernando) Llorente.
“In the last few games we’ve been compact but tomorrow we will need to be even more focused because our opponents are going to demand a lot of us. We have to be very strong in defence.”
Athletic have had a hugely disappointing campaign following the highs of last season when they reached the finals of the Europa League and Copa del Rey, and they are not yet completely safe from relegation.
The Basque side are one of only three clubs never to have been out of the top flight but they are only seven points above Celta and the drop zone.
Athletic at least have a favourable-looking run-in, with successive games against the bottom three being followed by clashes with Levante and Rayo Vallecano.
Aduriz said: “There are five games left and things will be decided in the next three. We hope it will be for the good of Athletic and that we can be calm in the final games.”