Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo believes Real Madrid will gain the upper hand at the Camp Nou on Monday when the Spanish giants clash in the first Clásico of the season.
"Barcelona continues to be a very difficult team. Barça is a very strong team, especially when they play at home. They are there to fight for the league title," the 25-year-old told reporters.
"We know they are playing at a good level and for this reason it will be an important and beautiful game. May the best team win. And the best team will be Madrid," the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year said.
Ronaldo rejected suggestions that the match would be decisive like a final, claiming it is just "another match". "We have one point more, we are playing away but we are going with the intention of getting results. It is not a final because there are still many matches left."
"The two teams are very good, they are very close but with a distinct playing style. Barça use more 'tiqui-taca', we play more with the goal of going as far as possible as quickly as possible," he added, using the Spanish term used to describe Barcelona's short-passing style.
The Catalan side's double victory in the fixture last year was crucial in determining the outcome of La Liga, which Barcelona retained by the margin of one point. Ronaldo has never scored against Barcelona and he failed to impress in last season's two derbies but he is in astonishing form this season. It will be Real's first match against Barcelona under Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho. Unlike most coaches, Mourinho has fond memories of the Camp Nou. Under his guidance Inter Milan eliminated Barcelona from the UEFA Champions League at the fabled stadium last season.
Ronaldo said he was "proud" to be working with Mourinho. "I am an ambitious person and so is he, maybe it is because we are both Portuguese. I am proud to be working with a coach of this level, who has won everything."