Mallorca striker Vedat Muriqi has ramped up the pressure on Athletic Bilbao ahead of the Copa del Rey final by suggesting expectation may be too much for the Basque club.

Discounting the Spanish Super Cup, Bilbao have not won a trophy since a league and cup double in 1984.

Since then they have lost all six finals they have reached, during which time Mallorca won their maiden Copa del Rey in 2003.

“They have more experience in this game but they haven’t won in 40 years and they are favourites – but they have too much pressure. More than us,” Muriqi told Cadena SER.

“We can use it to our advantage and if we start the game well, we will have our chances.

“All players dream of winning a final. Physically we are not doing anything special but mentally I think that you have to prepare it a little differently.

“I have experience and I know how I have to handle it. I will handle it like a normal day. Everyone has to prepare themselves, it’s not up to the coach.”

Nevertheless, the Kosovo international believes experienced boss Javier Aguirre can make a difference.

“When I look to the sideline and I see Javier Aguirre there, I feel like we have another player,” he added.

“He has that experience and knows how to talk to the referee, how to motivate, how to demotivate. We are lucky to have this coach.”

Bilbao have an experienced coach of their own in Ernesto Valverde, who masterminded a quarter-final win over his former side Barcelona before beating Atletico Madrid to reach the final.

Defender Oscar de Marcos believes the game in Seville is a chance for the team to write their names into the club’s history books.

“I’m thinking about many former team-mates who have been here before,” he told a press conference.

“Some never made it to the final, others got this far, some with me, and we never took that last step.

“They lived through much more challenging situations so that we can enjoy this Copa final.

“We’re all just passing through this club and trying to leave our own legacy.”

Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi became the first player to score 400 goals in one of Europe’s top five leagues on this day in 2019.

Messi reached the landmark in his 435th league game for Barcelona, a 3-0 win against Eibar at Camp Nou in a season where he would win his 10th and final La Liga title.

“The figures speak for themselves,” Messi’s coach at the time, Ernesto Valverde, said after the match.

“We don’t know if anyone will ever get close to those statistics but he is unbelievable.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who throughout his career has vied with Messi to be regarded as the greatest player of their generation, was the first to score 400 goals in Europe’s top five leagues.

The Portuguese star reached the landmark in October 2018 but it took him 63 more appearances to achieve it, and his goals were spread across the English, Spanish and Italian top flights.

At the time Messi reached 400 goals, he had scored 31 hat-tricks for Barcelona, including four occasions where he scored four.

By the time Messi announced his departure from Barcelona in an emotional farewell in August 2021, he had scored an all-time record 474 La Liga goals.

Salary restrictions meant Barca could not afford to keep him, and he moved on to Paris St Germain before joining Inter Miami last summer.

Messi sealed his legacy as one of the all-time greats by leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar in 2022.

Xavi has urged Barcelona to “recover our ideology” before beginning a critical week of their season.

Barcelona have three home games in the space of six days, starting against Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga on Sunday.

Shakhtar Donetsk provide Champions League opposition on Wednesday and Real Madrid make the trip to the Nou Camp next Saturday for the first El Clasico of the season.

As LaLiga returns following the international break, leaders Real held a three-point advantage over Barcelona.

“At the start of the season, we’ve had some great moments of playing well,” said Xavi, whose side have dropped points in two of their last three league games with 2-2 draws against Mallorca and Granada.

“We must recover our ideology and get the three points by playing well.

“We are in a situation with a lot of absentees, but it won’t be an excuse for the game and to be able to play well.”

Alejandro Balde and Lamine Yamal have both been declared fit for the Bilbao clash.

But Frenkie de Jong, Jules Kounde, Pedri, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Sergi Roberto remain unavailable.

Lewandowski, Barca’s top scorer with six this season, is closing in on a return after ankle trouble and Xavi said the Poland forward “has a very good feeling” of returning against Real Madrid.

Xavi said: “He’s a great leader and always goes forward, he wants to be there and he’s hurting less and less every day.

“He has a very good feeling. He always pulls himself forward.

“But there is a lot of variety (in attack) and people with confidence in front of goal. That is great. Last year, we depended a lot on Lewandowski.”

On the potential return of other individuals, Xavi added: “The player’s feelings will tell when he will arrive. We won’t force anyone.

“Feelings are the key and they will mark the return of all of them.”

Bilbao began the weekend in fifth place, four points behind Barcelona after beating Almeria 3-0 before the international break.

The Basques side are managed by Ernesto Valverde, who won two LaLa titles and a Copa Del Rey during his time in charge of Barcelona between May 2017 and January 2020.

Xavi said: “Athletic are very strong physically and technically gifted. Valverde is a great coach and likes to press high.

“I’m expecting a difficult opponent, we have some injuries but that’s no excuse and we need our fans.

“We’re three points behind the leaders. But we have to keep working hard, to keep fighting, and to keep improving, because there is a long way to go in LaLiga.”

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