thumbnail Hello,

The Catalans were beaten by Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League and usurped by Real Madrid in La Liga, but the Argentine insists that they are still number one

Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa has claimed that Barcelona remains the best team in the world ahead of Friday's Copa del Rey final at the Vicente Calderon.

The Blaugrana have been dethroned as European and Spanish champions this season, by Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively, but the Argentine is in no doubt that the Catalans are still a cut above every other side on the planet.

"Barca continue to be the best team in the world," Bielsa told reporters at his pregame press conference in Madrid. "So, to win this final, our players must play at their full potential and be accurate and precise as a team. This, in turn, will help to decrease the usual level of Barcelona."

Bielsa acknowledged, though, that sometimes it is almost impossible to stop the Blaugrana if their talismanic No.10 is on his game.

"Lionel Messi has solutions for almost all problems," he conceded. "But we will try to ensure that he does not find a way to beat us tomorrow [Friday]."

Victor Valdes' understudy, Jose Pinto, is expected to start in between the posts for the Catalans and it has been suggested that he could be Barca's weak link. Bielsa, though, disagrees.

"A team like Barcelona don't have only one top goalkeeper," he argued. "I don't see any differences [between Valdes and Pinto]."

The Copa del Rey final is scheduled to get under way at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Follow GOAL.COM USA on