Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has praised Real Madrid and expects them to improve from their 5-0 El Clasico defeat in November.On that occasion, a David Villa double handed Barca a memorable victory, but Guardiola knows it will be a different story at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
“I have always held Madrid in high regard, since I was young through to when I was a player – and now as a manager.” Guardiola said.
“Football-wise, they are better than they were in the first game. They are faster than us and are more powerful, and they also shoot more than us.”
“They were better than us in a lot of aspects in the first game, and now they have spent more time together.”
“They are using different ways of playing and making things more difficult to control, and we will try to impose our game as best we can.”
It is the first of four El Clasico fixtures in less than three weeks and Guardiola admits he does not know how to prepare or plan for so many high-profile matches in such a short period of time.
He also said that Real Madrid will enter Sunday’s long-anticipated fixture as favourites, despite the drubbing they received last time the two sides met, but hopes his side can continue their good record at the Bernabeu.
“We know that it is a ground at which we have won for the past three years,” he said.
“But Madrid are favourites there, just as Barcelona are at the Camp Nou. Their tradition and fans carry weight, and the way that the team have played has left a big impression on me. We will have to have a very good game in order to beat them.”