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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 January 2021

Clasico: Lionel Messi expects a strong Real Madrid amid fresh concerns of postponement

Barcelona president Bartomeu says there won't be further delays following fears of unrest

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is expecting a strong challenge from Real Madrid during the much-awaited Clasico even as there were fresh concerns about another postponement.

Barcelona are set to face Real Madrid on December 18 and Messi said Zinedine Zidane's team are in top shape for the clash at Camp Nou.

"We expect a very strong Real Madrid," Messi said during the launch of his new Adidas Nemesis 19 boots.

"The have displayed consistency in the past few games in the Champions League. These [Clasicos] are always one-of-a-kind games, special games. It does not matter how the teams come into the match."

Messi's comments came amid concerns about the fixture. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the Clasico will not be postponed again following reports of unrest.

According to AFP, Catalan separatist movement Democratic Tsunami have called for a protest outside Camp Nou on December 18.

The match had already been rescheduled after the October 26 match had to be delayed following pro-independence demonstrations in the city.

"I can say that the Clasico will be played, it will not be postponed again," Bartomeu said in Barcelona.

"It is everyone's responsibility to ensure it goes ahead. We know that we live in a complicated period in Catalonia but that can be compatible with sport. Our stadium is a place for free expression, it always has been, and that is why we want to send out a message of normality and calm.

"The club is preparing for the Clasico with complete normality and we tell our fans to come with their family and friends. Together we have to deliver a Clasico that is a celebration of sport and of people. We want peace and calm."

Barcelona and Real Madrid are level on 34 points at the top of the Liga standings after 15 games and both play one more league fixture before their Camp Nou showdown.

Barca travel to fourth-placed Real Sociedad on Saturday, before Real Madrid visit eighth-placed Valencia on Sunday.

Published: December 12, 2019 07:57 PM

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