Ernesto Valverde wary of ‘wounded’ Real Madrid ahead of El Clasico

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has warned of a “wounded” Real Madrid side ahead of Sunday’s El Clasico.

Real go into the weekend’s fixtures four points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona in seventh place, after taking one point from their last four games.

But Valverde, who is without the injured Lionel Messi, is not underestimating Julen Lopetegui’s side ahead of the clash at the Camp Nou.

“The more wounded Real Madrid are, the more dangerous they are,” he said at his pre-match press conference.

“They have the quality to come back and they are a great team. I am expecting Real Madrid at their best.”

Valverde has not forgotten the promise the reigning European champions showed when they took 13 points from a possible 15 to start the season.

“There were moments at the start of the season when Madrid were brilliant in possession and in terms of the pressure they put teams under,” he added.

“They are now on a bad run, but they also have enough about them to overcome these things, just as we do with the absence of Messi.”

It will be the first El Clasico in 11 years without Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, following the Portuguese’s move to Juventus from Real.

“Cristiano was an important player, but we all need to look forward, that is what we are doing and I imagine that is what Madrid are doing,” said Valverde.

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