Luis Suarez is expecting a typically intense battle when Barcelona take on Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday.
Barcelona go into the eagerly-anticipated fixture with a one-point lead over Espanyol at the top of the table, despite just one win in their last five league matches.
The home side will also be without talisman Lionel Messi after the Argentina forward suffered a broken arm in the victory over Sevilla, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer move to Juventus means it will be the first Clasico without at least one of the game’s biggest stars since 2007.
However, Suarez believes the clash will live up to its billing at the Nou Camp as Ernesto Valverde’s side seek the win that would take them seven points clear of their opponents.
‘El Clasico is always El Clasico,’ Suarez said in an interview on the club’s website.
‘Look at El Clasico last year; we were practically champions already but the intensity was the same as in any Clasico. It’s like that, you’re always up for it.
‘You do have to look at the teams’ most recent results but the Clasico is the Clasico and nobody thinks about the other team’s morale or if they’ve been playing badly or better.’
Real Madrid have drawn one and lost three of their last four league games, including shock defeats to Alaves and Levante, with manager Julen Lopetegui’s position in serious jeopardy despite a Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen in midweek.
‘They have a new coach and whatever you say a new coach is always an added motivation for the players,’ Suarez added.
‘They want to show that they want to play and do well.
‘But obviously you have to be careful. They have quality, talented players that make all the difference. But they have weaknesses too, as do all opponents. And so do we and opponents have to exploit them.’
Ronaldo holds the record for goals scored in consecutive Clasicos, finding the net in all six matches between the teams in 2012, while his overall tally of 18 matches the club record of Alfredo Di Stefano.
But Suarez is taking nothing for granted ahead of a fixture which has seen six red cards handed out in the last eight matches.
‘Everyone knows how good he is but a team stands above the name of any one player,’ the 31-year-old added.
‘That’s why they have other players at Real Madrid who can make a difference.
‘But we have to play our game, take our approach and not worry what players will be there for the opposition, in this case Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo.’