Javier Mascherano paid tribute to Barcelona’s Copa del Rey opponents by describing Athletic Bilbao as ‘a special club.’
The sides meet at Camp Nou on Saturday with Athletic designated the home team, and Mascherano has been looking ahead to the encounter.
“Athletic is an excellent team and will make it very complicated,” the Argentine said in an interview, AS reports.
“Maintaining the culture of Athletic in global football makes them a special club. It’s very interesting that, despite the limitations, they continue to be so competitive.
“They deserve all my gratitude for maintaining the philosophy beyond results.”