Mascherano: Now is the best time to face Real Madrid

The Argentine is confident his side can defeat its arch-rival in Wednesday's encounter, and gave his support to Victor Valdes over his decision not to renew his contract
Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano believes his side is facing Real Madrid at just the right time, after the Blaugrana romped to a 5-1 win over Osasuna on Sunday night.

Four goals from Lionel Messi - who became the youngest-ever player to score 200 Liga goals - and a Pedro strike, put the 10-man visitors to the sword and extended the Catalan club's lead at the top of the table to 11 points.

Attentions now turn to Wednesday night's Copa del Rey clash with Madrid and the Argentine is expecting a typically fierce and tight encounter, regardless of the sizable gap separating the two sides in La Liga.

"It is the best time to face Madrid," he told reporters after the game.

"It will be a great game regardless of how both teams are playing. We will face a Madrid that have great staff and great players and the quality to fight for everything."

The 28-year-old then gave his backing to teammate Victor Valdes following his decision not to renew his current deal at the club, when it expires in 2014.

"Victor is entitled to do what he wants to do," he added.

"As Tito [Vilanova] said, he hasn't asked for more money, he has just decided to pursue his future elsewhere. People will appreciate all that he has given the club over the years and is part of a special group that has won many trophies."

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