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The club captain commended his goalkeeping rival for his performances this season and Real Madrid's No.1 was grateful for his team-mate's kind words

Diego Lopez has thanked Iker Casillas after Real Madrid's captain put their table-topping form down to his excellent displays in goal.

Much has been made of the rivalry between the two Blancos goalkeepers, with Lopez being Carlo Ancelotti's No.1 in La Liga fixtures while the club captain features in the Copa del Rey and Champions League ties.

Casillas suggested recently that Lopez's efforts between the sticks are part of the reason Madrid currently top La Liga and the ex-Sevilla keeper was delighted to hear the high praise from his team-mate.

"Iker is the team's captain and figurehead," Lopez told reporters. "I'm grateful for his comments. He's always had and will always have my utmost respect.

"We both have our own skill sets and we compete for a place in the best team in the world.

"It's a privilege playing for Madrid. I defend the club's colours. I fight to play every game and we're all working hard to play as a unit."

Madrid face arch-rivals Barcelona in the Clasico next weekend and Lopez knows how vital the game will be in the race for the Liga title, with the Catalans in desperate need of points to close the gap.

"It's going to be a crucial game, we know how important it is and we're looking forward to Sunday," he added. "They'll also see it as a great opportunity, but we have to defend our lead and take it one game at a time."

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