Ernesto Valverde has claimed ahead of Friday’s Supercopa first leg that Athletic Bilbao are owed a victory over Barcelona sooner rather than later.
Los Leones lost 3-1 to the Catalans in last season’s Copa del Rey final, their latest in a long line of trophy deciders, but the Coach is in a confident mood, given the treble-winners’ injuries and defensive struggles against Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup.
“The absences are crucial if we consider the potential of both teams,” he told reporters.
“[On the Neymar showboating controversy in last season’s Copa del Rey final], it’s in the past now.
“[Lionel Messi] is able to do incredible things, even when he’s man-marked. Still, [man-marking Messi] is an option that we’re considering putting into practice.
“We won’t play thinking about what comes next [in reference to the Europa League playoff].
“We’ll fight hard to win this trophy. We’ve played against [Barca] many times and maybe we’ll win this time out.
“At this stage of the season, we’re perhaps not in as good shape as we were in the Copa final, when we were at an optimal level.
“Sevilla have shown that it’s possible to hurt them, so we’ll try [to hurt them too].”