Sergio Ramos insists Real Madrid are still “the best team in the world” as they prepare to face rivals Barcelona on Saturday.
Madrid head into the fixture at Camp Nou 10 points behind their league-leading opponents in the standings with only eight games of the campaign remaining.
Barcelona are closing in on a third Spanish title in the last four years, while they are also the champions of Europe after beating Juventus in last season’s Champions League final.
However, while Ramos admits Luis Enrique’s side have been “the best in almost all competitions” recently, he still believes Madrid sit on top of the pile ahead of the season’s second Clasico.
“These type of games have always been very special, especially given what they involve and the media reaction they have,” the defender told Bwin.
“At the end of the day, we’re the best team in the world playing against another team who in recent years have also been the best in nearly every competition.
“This rivalry has intensified and in the Clasico you notice it even more.
“The most important thing is that the team plays a good game and, obviously, wins.”
If Madrid are to avenge the humiliating 4-0 home defeat in the reverse fixture, they are likely to need a big performance from goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Ramos has praised the Costa Rican – who joined the club from Levante in August 2014 – for the way he has helped fill the void left by the departure of club legend Iker Casillas.
“When you see everything from the back it sets you apart from the rest. Keylor has adapted very well,” the Spain international added.
“After having succeeded someone who has been a legend like Iker at Real Madrid and it was a difficult task, but the truth is we are very happy with Keylor’s performance and we will try to continue with this feeling of security.”