Victor Valdes and Iker Casillas have stoked the fires ahead of the El Clasico Copa del Rey final, each declaring theirs the team to beat.
Barcelona goalkeeper Valdes and Real Madrid counterpart Valdes fronted the media ahead of Wednesday’s final, the second time in four days the Spanish giants have met on the field.
On Saturday, a late penalty to Cristiano Ronaldo ensured Real snatched a 1-1 with Barca at the San Bernabeu after Lionel Messi had earlier struck from the spot for the reigning league champions.
Barcelona lead the La Liga standings with 85 points – eight more than Real, with six games remaining in the season.
Remarkably, the bitter rivals are also set to fight it out in a blockbuster Champions League semi-final, with the first leg in Madrid the following Wednesday.
With much at stake across all three competitions, both Casillas and Valdes are eager to talk up their respective sides, promising another thrilling encounter at the Mestalla – home of La Liga club Valencia – on Wednesday.
“For me, right now we are the two best teams in the world, so it’s normal that we should be competing with one another,” Valdes said.
“And it really is about time we met in a competition as important as the Champions League.”
“As a Barcelonista, as I have been all my life, there’s no doubt that I always want to beat Madrid.”
“For me, Barcelona have always been the best team in the world. Right now, I think we’re an important reference point in world football. ”
“But one characteristic that Real have always had, historically, is that they are a team that never gives up, whatever situation they’re in.”
Casillas, who also competes with Valdes for the number one shirt in the Spain national team, added: “It’s what everyone wanted. It’s what you journalists wanted.”
“You’ve been asking us to give you this for ages, now you’ve got it. The circumstances of football have thrown this up – it’s just coincidence. But anyway, let’s see what the month of April brings.”
“The team is fine physically – they’re all very fit. There’s always a teammate to help me, so I don’t mind who I’ve got playing in front of me.”
“The important thing is that we form a good solid block at the back.”
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