Valdes adds Real spark

BY foxsports • April 8, 2011

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has started to provoke bitter rivals Real Madrid ahead of a possible four meetings between the two adversaries starting later this month.

And having built up big leads in their respective Champions League quarter-final first legs - against Shakhtar Donetsk and Tottenham - this week, Barca and Madrid also look set to meet over two matches in the last four of Europe's premier club competition.

All of those games will take place in a hectic 18-day period which will define the season of both teams, but Valdes reminded his rivals that Barca have had the edge in recent Clasico meetings.

"Were Real Madrid's (Clasico) victories in black and white or in colour?" the goalkeeper joked on Antena 3.

But the keeper, who is suspended for Saturday's Division clash at home to bottom club Almeria, is relishing the meetings with Jose Mourinho's side.

"The more Barca-Madrid games there are the better," he said.

"It will make it more intense and will be better for football."

Meanwhile, full-back Maxwell knows the games against Madrid will represent the biggest test of the season for his side.

"It's an enormous challenge to dispute everything with Real Madrid," he said.

Nevertheless, the defender warned his side against distraction ahead of Saturday's game against Almeria and the Champions League second leg against Shakhtar - even though Barca will take a 5-1 lead to Ukraine.

"It's a very dangerous thing if we start thinking about Real Madrid," he said.

"We have to respect both Almeria and Shakhtar - then we'll see."

Maxwell could start against Almeria as Eric Abidal continues to recover after having a tumour removed from his liver last month.

Reserve keeper Jose Manuel Pinto is doubtful and with Valdes suspended, that could leave Barca coach Pep Guardiola with a big selection headache in goal for Saturday's game.

Sergio Busquets is also banned, while captain Carles Puyol is unlikely to return from injury.

Guardiola, though, wants concentration in Saturday's match.

While Barca lead the Primera Division with eight rounds left, Almeria prop up the table and the Andalusians have changed their coach ahead of Saturday's game.

Roberto Olabe has come in to replace previous boss Jose Luis Oltra following back-to-back defeats and the new man is the club's third coach of what has been a difficult season.

Olabe is set for a daunting debut at the Nou Camp and has had little time to prepare for the trip to Barcelona, having taken his first training session on Wednesday.

Santiago Acasiete and Carlos Garcia are doubtful for Saturday's game, while Hernan Pellerano serves the second game of his two-match suspension.


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