Dani Alves believes that Real Madrid may be the defending champions this season, but Barcelona remain the team to beat.
Barca lost their League title to Los Blancos last term and also were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Champions League to eventual competition-winners Chelsea.
Even so, Brazilian full-back Alves has come out fighting today, by suggesting that it is still the Blaugrana that the other teams will have to defeat.
“The team to beat is not Real Madrid, it is still Barcelona,” he told today’s Press conference.
“The best team in the world is Barcelona and it is with merit that we carry the logo of World Champion on our chest. In the League we want to regain the title and I know that we will be able to.
“We want to be a team competing for the title and we want to begin well, to send a little message to anyone else who wants to go for the title.”
The newly-appointed 2014 World Cup ambassador then spoke about the major change to have occurred at the Camp Nou this term, Pep Guardiola’s departure and Tito Vilanova’s promotion in his place.
“I say that as a strategy that if he couldn’t stay, then the best man to help us maintain our style is Tito Vilanova. He doesn’t need much help, but the continuity of work will remain with Tito.
“Pep has been great here, but I think that he has also left us in very good hands with Tito, who will follow the same idea. The project is renewed and we are keen to get things done.”
The full-back was asked about his fitness going into the new term.
“I am 30, I’m older and they say that at 30 players are older. But, I think that I am still in shape and can take a lot.
“I’m at full maturity. I’ve gone from a boy to a man and now I’m going to be a larger man. But I can still take many years more.”
Alves also passed comment on Jose Mourinho’s suggestion that he should be nicknamed the Only One for his success as a Coach.
“If Mourinho is the Only One then Pep is the Opposite One. We would never sense that we are inferior. We are equal, at least.”