Pique targets top spot

Barca defender ready for derby date

Pique: Fond memories of Madrid

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Gerard Pique is hoping Barcelona can prevail in Sunday's El Clasico and reclaim top spot in the Primera Liga.

Pep Guardiola's side remain unbeaten in the league this season, but a surprise 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao last Saturday allowed Real Madrid to usurp them at the summit.

That has helped to bring an added edge to this weekend's derby between Spanish football's fiercest rivals.

Barca won the last meeting between the two sides 6-2, at Santiago Bernabeu in May, but there is unlikely to be a repeat of that scoreline this time around.

Both teams are expected to a favour a more cautious approach, but Pique is confident Barcelona can take maximum points from the Camp Nou contest.

"It's a nice memory (the 6-2 win), but on Sunday we have to leave the past behind and focus on the game, which is very important and will be very difficult. But I'm also sure that we will come out on top," said the Spain international.

"The result against Inter (a 2-0 win on Tuesday) was very good for the team because it gives us confidence and calm. To have Champions League qualification on track allows us to be fully focused on getting a good result in the Clasico.

"In football many things happen that you cannot control, but we will go out to win and to regain the league leadership."

Danger

Sunday will also see Pique come face-to-face with his former Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, but the commanding centre-half is adamant Barca can nullify his threat.

He said: "It's true that I know him well. I trained with him for three or four years and I've seen the games that he's played here. It's true that he is a danger because he is one of the top three players in the world and can do the unexpected, but we will defend against him as best as possible.

"They are trying to make out that with Cristiano they are a better team, but I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about my team, that whoever we play we can win, about recovering our injured players and treating all opponents the same. If we play well, then it's normal for us win."

Barca's cause could be hindered by the absence of key men such as Lionel Messi and Zlatan Irbahimovic.

Both missed the midweek victory over Inter through injury and failed to train on Thursday.

Messi is currently struggling with a leg problem while Ibrahimovic is carrying a hamstring complaint.