Alves relishing derby, Xavi backs Messi
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Barcelona and Real Madrid may have collided seven times last year, but that frequency has not quenched Dani Alves’s thirst to partake 2012's first instalment of the fixture.

The Spanish superpowers will encounter in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final at the Santiago Bernabeu tomorrow.

"We really enjoy playing against Real Madrid,” the 28-year-old wingback told Barça TV. “I have already featured in plenty of games like this.

"Now we meet again and that's only normal. Big teams that fight for the same trophies will meet more than once per season.

“There is always a certain balance between the two teams when we meet, regardless of the form in previous weeks. We will be well prepared and will see what happens.”

Leo will make the difference. He grows in these games and relishes playing in them.
Xavi on Lionel Messi

Barça won three, drew three and lost one of their seven matches against Real in 2011. However, the one they lost was in the Copa del Rey final, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal in extra time to clinch Los Merengues the trophy for the 18th time - only Barcelona (25) and Athletic Bilbao (23) have won the competition on more occasions.

In the latest El Clásico on 10 December, the Lionel Messi-inspired Catalans recovered an early deficit to emerge 3-1 victors in the Spanish capital. And Xavi believes the little Argentinian will prove decisive again this time round.

“Leo will make the difference,” the Spain midfielder said. “He's usually decisive, but he grows in these games and relishes playing in them.”

Real Madrid & Barcelona legends
Click this Classic Players link to read about the superb careers of former Barcelona and Real Madrid players including Johan Cruyff, Alfredo Di Stefano, Sandor Kocsis, Raymond Kopa, Michael Laudrup, Ferenc Puskas, Romario, Ricardo Zamora & Zinedine Zidane.