Valverde expects dangerous Real Madrid in Clasico clash

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde

Real Madrid travel to Barcelona with coach Julen Lopetegui under heavy pressure, but Ernesto Valverde expects a difficult LaLiga encounter.

Ernesto Valverde expects Real Madrid to be “dangerous” Clasico opponents despite accepting Barcelona’s rivals go into Sunday’s LaLiga clash in crisis.

Madrid head coach Julen Lopetegui’s job is reportedly on the line when he takes on Barcelona for the first time since leaving his post in charge of Spain prior to the World Cup.

Barca warmed up for Madrid by defeating Inter 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday, goals from Rafinha and Jordi Alba earning a comfortable Group B win.

But despite Barca sitting six places above Madrid in the LaLiga table going into Sunday’s Clasico, Valverde will not be taking a positive result for granted.

“Madrid can be even more dangerous,” Valverde told a news conference after his side’s win against Inter.

“They will come out here to face us and although they come in crisis will want to demonstrate their strength, which they have because they have great players.

“We must forget about today… I do not trust these situations.”

Messi will miss the Clasico after fracturing his right arm against Sevilla at the weekend, with Rafinha stepping into the Barca captain’s place with a goal against former club Inter.

“We have responded well without Messi,” Valverde said. “There was a lot of expectation to see how we responded to his absence.

“It was something that was in everyone’s head and it showed in the environment, but we have responded well.

“We always play as a team and we have a recognised and recognisable style, but it is true that Messi gives us a touch of extraordinary brilliance.

“If he is not there, we have to replace him, today we have made the right decision, but we hope we can come back soon, we all miss him.”

Valverde appeared to be whistled by the Camp Nou crowd when he replaced Arthur, who shone in midfield, with Arturo Vidal late in the game.

“I am the person who knows the players best,” Valverde said. “Arthur had a small muscle overload and with the week ahead we preferred not to risk him. But only I know that.”

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