Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes playing against their arch rivals, Real Madrid in Sunday’s El Clasico could be the perfect time for Julen Lopetegui’s side to rediscover their form.
Real Madrid have failed to win a game in their last four La Liga game losing which has thrown Lopetegui’s future into doubt.
“For that reason I’m wary of what they can do tomorrow (Sunday),” Valverde said during his pre-match conference on Saturday.
“There have been times when Madrid have been brilliant in their collective play, in possession, in attack.”
“They have enough weapons to be able to overcome the absence of an important player like Cristiano [Ronaldo].
“The same is true with us and Leo [Messi].
“We have to recognise each other when we play. That is key. We do it with and without Messi.
“That’s what we learnt last year, that we are all together and we are stronger for it.
“We come into this on the back of two good games and now we have this match to top it all off.
“The key to victory will be how we play, not momentum.”In the end we know what Madrid are like.”
“The more wounded they are, the more dangerous they are. I expect the best Madrid tomorrow.
“They are a team that create chances, you could see that against Levante.
“They created 10 clear goalscoring opportunities.”That’s a clear indicator of the attacking quality they have.”
Valverde also plays down the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi from the Clasico for the first time since 2007.
“I’m only thinking about [Dani] Carvajal’s absence,” he said.
“Cristiano is now history. Regarding Messi, we have already turned the corner. We have to take an even bigger step forward than we did against Inter.
“It’s rare to prepare for a Clasico without him but the team is mentally ready.
“It’s no less of a Clasico without Messi and Cristiano. Clasicos existed before them. There was tension, there were pigs’ heads being thrown about.”