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Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez reckons Valencia are a more solid and compact team this season compared to last.

Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez has revealed his opinion on the exploits of league leaders Valencia so far this season, saying that he has observed a more compact and solid Los Che than he witnessed last season.

Despite the loss of David Villa and David Silva during the summer, Unai Emery’s side have thrived and are currently unbeaten so far in all competitions, and that level of consistency has impressed Martinez, as los Leones prepare to face them at the Mestalla this weekend.

The Spanish international was discussing his impressions on the main contenders for the Primera Division title, and he told journalists today: “Valencia are much more solid and compact than last year. We know that this part of the championship is very complicated because now we have to face the league leaders and it will be very difficult to win at their field.

“Hopefully tomorrow’s game [versus Manchester United] will see them expend energy and then we can take advantage of this.”

However, Martinez refused to comment on the performance of the officials during the Basque side’s 3-1 defeat to Barcelona on Saturday evening, during which defender Fernando Amorebieta was red carded for a foul on Andres Iniesta.

He remained coy, saying simply: “For me it is not my place to decide whether it was a red card or not, but the referee has decided to make it so, and now we must hope that the penalty is as small as possible.”

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