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The focus in Catalunya this weekend will be on the city derby but the Blaugrana right-back is also keeping a close eye on their title rivals, Real Madrid.

Dani Alves has seen his fair share of fiery derbies during his time with Sevilla but he is now ready to embrace a new crosstown rivalry following his summer move to Barcelona.

This weekend’s El Derbi Barcelones will see the Blaugrana play host to Espanyol and the Brazilian already has mixed emotions as he prepares to face the Blanc-i-Blau, who are in real danger of being relegated.

“It is never pleasant to see your fellow professionals struggling like that. I have never experienced it myself but I do not wish it on anybody,” he said in an interview with Sport.

“I believe that it [relegation] is the worse thing that can happen to you. If you lose a title, perhaps it’s because your rivals are better than you are. But to be demoted from the top flight is really heartbreaking.

“However, when the whistle goes tomorrow (tonight), one will forget about everything and especially so in a derby, where there are no such things as friends. We will do everything possible to beat them. I want their season to turn out well, but I also want us to get a good result on Saturday,” he stressed.

A good result will indeed see Barca at least maintain their 10-point advantage over direct title rivals and eternal enemies, Real Madrid and Alves is happy with their lead at present.

“We have a significant gap on them, eventhough they insist it’s nothing. Right now, we only depend on ourselves and no one else.

“In Madrid, they say that they’ve cut our lead by two points in the last round but still… they are far behind.

“For now, we remain very cautious and we are taking things little by little. We are anxious to win something after two years without a title, but we are also not expecting radical success. Once we secure our first trophy, only then will we focus on the next one,” he explained.

Barca will shift their attention back to the Champions League after this weekend when they travel to France to square off with Lyon on Tuesday.

KS Leong,