Newly-appointed Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez has assessed the challenge ahead.
Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez has labelled Barcelona the reference point this season but explained how he intends to get the better of them when the two La Liga giants meet, Spanish paper El Pais reports.
Barcelona completed a clean sweep last season, winning the La Liga title ahead of their rivals and adding both the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League title to their collection.
In doing so, Barca’s front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez netted a combined 122 goals in all competitions and they will be eager to do even better this time around.
Despite acknowledging the Nou Camp outfit’s current status as Europe’s best, Benitez has said that he has a plan in place to stop them.
“It’s true that Barcelona are the defending champions and the reference point for us,” he explained to El Pais.
“[But] if we keep the ball when we play them, they’ll suffer because they are used to controlling possession; and if not, we will need to be well organized to recover the ball and punish them.”
While Barcelona start the season widely regarded as the best team in the world, they enter the campaign encountering problems having suffered a 5-1 Spanish Super Cup aggregate loss to Athletic Bilbao.
Beyond their starting XI, which is phenomenal, their squad players certainly lack that top quality and some could argue that Madrid have better players to call upon off the bench.
Defensively, Luis Enrique’s men have looked out of sorts this month while under Benitez, Madrid in contrast are expected to be much tighter at the back with better discipline and organization.
With Barca not able to see new signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal until January, there is a case to be made that Madrid head into the campaign in better shape than their rivals.