If Iniesta is in form, Barcelona are tough to stop - Campo

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While the Catalans offer threats throughout, it is the Spain midfielder who makes them tick, the ex-Blancos defender has warned ahead of El Clasico

Barcelona are tough to stop when Andres Iniesta is in the groove, former Real Madrid defender Ivan Campo has argued.

Saturday will see the Catalan outfit tackle Real Madrid in La Liga, having opened up an 11-point gap to their great rivals at the summit of the standings. Barca have yet to lose in the Primera Division this season and travel to the Bernabeu with their spirits high.

Campo believes that if Madrid are to regain the title that they won last May, this is a fixture they simply have to win – but he has warned that it is a formidable challenge against such opponents.

Indeed, he thinks that if Iniesta is at the peak of his powers, Zinedine Zidane's men face a very tough challenge.

“Barcelona play fantastic football but Real Madrid have just come back from winning the FIFA Club World Cup and the game on Saturday will be very exciting,” said Campo to Goal during an exclusive chat in Kuala Lumpur as part of La Liga's partnership with Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP). 

“The most important thing is to win this game then we'll see who is the champion in May.

“Barcelona have fantastic players - not only Messi but Luis Suarez. You have Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and my favourite player - Andres Iniesta. I think that when Iniesta is in form, Barcelona normally win.

“As a team, when they are on form, they are hard to stop. Not just for Real Madrid but also for other strong teams like Manchester United or Juventus.”

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The 43-year-old went on to defend Cristiano Ronaldo's form this season, which has not matched the heights the Ballon d'Or winner set in the previous campaigns. 

“With Ronaldo, he's in a special moment now. You've seen him scoring 40-50 goals a season and winning trophies for years,” the former Spain defender said.

“But it's very difficult for any forward to keep being at the top level. He's still playing well but it's normal for players to have varying levels from season to season.”

Ivan Campo

Campo, who spent five years on the books at Real Madrid, stated that Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos cannot be criticised for his poor disciplinary record. 

“Sometimes we can control situations on the pitch but sometimes you can't,” he argued. “When you speak about Ramos and cards, it's normal. Sometimes you need to go in strong and you don't always get the timing right.”

Campo emphatically stated that the El Clasico is without a doubt the best rivalry in world football.

“This is the one rivalry with 600 million fans around the world and it's the best one,” he said. “Others like Manchester United v Manchester City or Juventus v Torino are good but the best one is Real Madrid v Barcelona in La Liga.”

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He asserted that for any player, the first El Clasico is always special and recalled his favourite moment. 

“When I played in my first one in Santiago Bernabeu, we won 2-1.  That is a very special situation for me because it was a big game, watched by a lot of people around the world. The best moment for a player is the first El Clasico,” he concluded. 

Real Madrid are presently fourth in La Liga, although they have played one game fewer than rivals Barca, and two shy of Atletico Madrid, who lost 1-0 at Espanyol on Friday.

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