Ernesto Valverde praised Barcelona for taking ‘a mental edge’ into the Clasico after their 2-0 Champions League win against Inter on Wednesday.
“In our last match against Tottenham, we applied enough pressure and Messi was there,” said the Coach in a wide-ranging interview after the game.
“Messi is always missed, but we want to miss him by winning. We’ve said it from the start. We stopped them from playing and we did so throughout the match.
“It was an important and difficult match and our first without Messi. Everyone was expectant and I think we responded well.
“Clasicos don’t take form into account. Those differences aren’t seen and an important emotional change is needed.
“We haven’t won anything from the games we’ve won so far. We know what to expect and what Madrid will demand from us.
“It’s true that today’s game helped us take a step forward without Leo. Our intention was, knowing who we were facing, for Inter not to have the ball and to be very quick in our pressing after losing the ball.
“They’re an attacking team, but we were the better team throughout. Arthur played very well and I’m very happy with him.
“The change? I didn’t want to risk him because he had a little knock and with everything that’s coming up…
“Everything seems brighter when you score a goal, but Rafinha’s work was already for all to see without it.
“He linked up well between the lines and was very generous when it came to winning the ball back.
“The good thing about today’s match is that we overcame the adversities we had. We have nine points and there was a draw [between Tottenham and PSV], which favours us in the group.
“The team played well, but we were especially fantastic at Wembley. Winning these two games gives us a mental edge for a Clasico like Sunday’s one.
“It’ll be a very exciting game, but I don’t think we have the advantage on them. We must maintain our sense of solidarity and the team ethic we showed tonight.
“I’ve been asked about Suarez many times, but Luis’ work is always there to be seen, as it is for Coutinho, Arthur, Rakitic, the centre-backs…
“If Dembele didn’t play, it’s not because I want to send a message to anyone. That inference would be wrong.
“He’s another player in the squad. Sometimes he’ll play and sometimes others will. There’s not much else to say about it.
“We always play as a team but when Messi is there, he gives us a touch of brilliance, which makes him extraordinary.
“Today we were successful in the game and with our chances. Leo rescues us in games that are difficult to break open. We hope he recovers as soon as possible.
“Everyone wants to play, there’s no doubt about that. Arturo has a lot of enthusiasm. He always goes forward and is contagious with his pressure.
“He gets close to the opposition’s goal too. He can help us, for sure. Inter are a great team but if they didn’t play well, it’s more because of us than it is them.
“We played in their half for the entire game, except at the start of the second half. Madrid will be even more dangerous than usual.
“We have to come out the traps as Lopetegui’s side will come here to show all their strength. I don’t trust the situation they’re in.”