Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said Friday that "there is a lot at stake" in Saturday's eagerly-awaited El Clasico against Real Madrid, a side he described as stronger than last season.
Real have a three-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga and a game in hand.
"There is a lot at stake tomorrow. The one who is behind always has a greater need to win. And if we do not go to the Bernabeu without being aware of what is at stake, then it will be very hard," Guardiola said.
"Above all we have to defend well, be quick with the transitions and pay attention to factors like the circulation of the ball. It will not be easy because they have a very intense game.
"They are stronger than they were last year. They know each other better, they have spent more time together and know what their coach demands of them."
Barca have generally come out on top in direct clashes between the arch rivals since the arrival of Guardiola as coach in 2008, including a humiliating 5-0 pasting of Real a year ago in Barcelona.
But while the Catalan side have stuttered away from home this season, Real have been relentless and will be now looking for their 16th consecutive victory in all competitions, while in the league they have scored 49 goals in 14 games.