Real Madrid and Barcelona collide in Copa del Rey and La Liga action this week at an incredibly pivotal stage of the Spanish season.
Los Blancos’ 18-year-old star Vinicius has been one of the leading lights for Santiago Solari’s side this season and isn’t worried about the prospect of facing Lionel Messi.
“Messi is always there. He’s an incredible player but we aren’t scared of anyone,” he told the press after Madrid’s 2-1 win over Levante on Sunday.
The Barcelona captain continued to defy description at Sevilla on Saturday as his stunning hat-trick took the league leaders 10 points clear.
Vinicius, meanwhile, played a staring role at the Ciutat de Valencia at the weekend as penalties from Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale took them to within 12 points of the Blaugrana.
Things are more even in the Copa with Wednesday’s second leg perfectly set up after goals from Lucas Vazquez and Malcom saw the first tie end 1-1.
“We’re ready for the Clasico,” said Vinicius. “I can’t wait to play in it, it’s a very important match. Every player would love to be involved in a Clasico.
“We’re ready and we have the best players in the world.”
With Barcelona having an extra day’s rest after the weekend’s games, Solari is less than impressed with his team’s schedule going into the Clasico double-header.
“We find it funny,” said the Real Madrid boss on Saturday. “It’s curious. But playing in different conditions, it entertains us a lot and we see it as a challenge.”
Gerard Pique, as he often does, also had his say on the matter after Barcelona’s win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan: “The last time they had one day’s more rest than us we won 5-1.”
Real Madrid face Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu knowing that they haven’t beaten their rivals at home for almost five years.
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Benzema saw Carlo Ancelotti’s men come from behind to beat Luis Enrique’s eventual treble winners.
In fact, Real Madrid have won three Champions League titles since they last won a league or cup (excluding SuperCopa) game against Barcelona.