Lionel Messi expects to face a ‘very strong Real Madrid’ in next week’s rearranged El Clasico fixture at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona are the Spanish champions and current leaders of La Liga but they are ahead of an in-form Madrid on goal difference only.
Los Blancos are unbeaten in ten matches across all competitions - winning eight of those - while they have suffered just one defeat in their last 15 matches, in a defeat at Real Mallorca.
That has been Zinedine Zidane’s side only La Liga defeat of the campaign to date - two fewer than the Catalan giants - but will be without key players such as Eden Hazard for this clash.
“I expect a very strong Real Madrid,” Messi is cited as saying by Marca.
“They are special matches, no matter how one or the other arrives. We are both in a good moment, but they are moments that go apart.
“Our Champions League hopes? We must start from scratch, because it is a new year, a new competition. Learn from the past, from mistakes and focus on the present.
“La Liga? Everything is more even, anyone can beat anyone. It is difficult to play as a visitor because the stadiums become very strong. That makes everything more complicated. Everything is more even.”