Barcelona train ahead of El Clasico as Lionel Messi and Co plot a victory that would see them move 12 POINTS clear of their close rivals in La Liga
- Lionel Messi led his Barcelona team-mates as they prepared for El Clasico
- The La Liga leaders could go 12 points clear of Real Madrid with victory
- The squad appeared in relaxed spirits as they ran through drills at their base
Victory in El Clasico on Saturday would leave the league leaders a mammoth 12 points ahead of their rivals with 13 games to go.
The whole squad ran through a series of drills and exercises at their Joan Gamper Sports Centre training base.
Luis Suarez (left) and Lionel Messi are likely to start for Barcelona against Real Madrid
A Barcelona victory would be a crucial step forward in retaining their La Liga title
On talisman and captain Messi, boss Ernesto Valverde said: ‘He’s the same Messi as always. You always expect a lot because he’s so decisive, sometimes he seems less involved but that’s got a lot to do with how the team plays.
There are times when the team as a whole wasn’t playing well, but we really need to work to get him involved.’
The goalkeepers were put through a series of drills ahead of Saturday’s crunch fixture
Young midfielder Carles Alena is enjoying a breakthrough season for the Catalan giants
While beating Real Madrid would be a step towards La Liga glory, the club also face the prospect of a Copa del Rey final against Valencia.
Valverde added: ‘We have a lot of respect for Valencia, we haven’t beaten them this season, we’ve drawn twice. Valencia are having a good season. They started poorly and they’ve been getting better.
‘It’s going to be a difficult opponent and I congratulate them on reaching the final. I think it’s an attractive final for everybody. they have a clear system of playing, so yes it’s something to look forward to.
Veteran stars Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal have been regulars so far this season
Barcelona are competing for glory on several fronts, with a Copa del Rey final on the horizon