Mikel San Jose has warned Barcelona rival Lionel Messi that he cannot complain about Athletic Bilbao being a dirty team in their upcoming clashes.
Espanyol were criticised for their ultra-physical approach to stopping Messi in their three recent meetings with Barca, but San Jose believes Los Leones have what it takes to stifle the Argentine fairly in both La Liga on Wednesday and the Copa del Rey three days later.
“It’s very difficult to choose [between La Liga and the Copa] because the points in La Liga are very important and a Copa semi-final is beautiful, but we hope to progress in both,” he told Radio 4G.
“We would’ve preferred another opponent [to Barca], but they’re who we’ve been drawn against and we’re facing it heartily. It’ll be difficult, but we have a chance.
“[You can stop Messi] with lots of help and a little luck. He’s unstoppable in one-on-ones.
“Still, he can’t have many complaints because we’re not a particularly dirty team. It’s clear that we make mistakes, but we’re fine.
“On paper, they’re better than us, but we know that we’re a team who they don’t like to face.
“Whenever they play against us, they suffer a lot. It gives us encouragement to know that we’ve done great things against them.”