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Lionel Messi says Barcelona play Real Madrid as equals at the Bernabeu ahead of Clasico clash

Lionel Messi

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has explained why his team often perform better against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu than at the Camp Nou.

The two arch-rivals lock horns at Barcelona's home stadium on Wednesday, with the winner set to move three points clear at the top of the La Liga table.

Barcelona did the double over Madrid last term, winning 5-1 at the Camp Nou and 1-0 at the Bernabeu.

The Catalan outfit have won each of their last four league visits to Madrid, but last season's thrashing was their first win in four home fixtures.

And Messi believes Barcelona tend to benefit from the extra space they are afforded in the Spanish capital.

"When we play at the Bernabeu, many more spaces are generated," the Argentina international told Marca

 They attack us more because they have the obligation as the host team and the fans push them to do that.

"At the Camp Nou they play another type of match, sitting a little further back. They are closer together and hit us on the counter-attack because they have very fast players up front.

"But at the Bernabeu we play 90 minutes equally. Here the game becomes tighter and is more complicated."

Zinedine Zidane has come under pressure at the start of the season, with Madrid's performances often considered sub-par despite the fact that they are level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

And Messi says he has been taken aback by the criticism Zidane has received since his return to the club in March.

"It's surprising, but those of us who have been in [football] for a long time, and especially in big clubs, know that this is normal. People forget very quickly what happened and what was achieved in the past, and demand you [deliver] day by day.

"Zidane surely knew when he returned that the three Champions League trophies he had won no longer mattered and [the fans] were going to demand [in the same way] they did on his first day. Coaches and players of great teams know that we are continuously in the spotlight and living with this [pressure]."

Barcelona were drawn against Napoli in the Champions League round of 16, while Real Madrid were paired with Manchester City.

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