Vinicius: We're not scared of Messi
Real teenager throws down the gauntlet ahead of Clasico double-header
Real Madrid's teenage sensation Vinicius insists his side are "not scared" to face Lionel Messi's resurgent Barcelona in this week's Clasico double-header .
The arch-rivals face off in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tomorrow morning (Singapore time) before meeting again in a La Liga encounter on Sunday morning.
"Messi is incredible, he can do things that no other player can, but we are not scared of him," Vinicius wrote on his social media account.
"We are ready for all tests that are going to come to us, we know we have the best players in the world."
Even victory is unlikely to project Real back into the title race but, for Santiago Solari's side, momentum is at stake.
Their steady, if not unwavering, renaissance is poised for a potential double boost ahead of the campaign's decisive months.
Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet, who has been thrown into the deep end as Samuel Umtiti is still recovering from a knee injury, believes that both games could define the respective clubs' seasons.
Barcelona's priority may be the Champions League and their hold on La Liga too tight to shake off, but it says something for the magnitude of the Clasico that Lenglet still feels its significance.
"This month is pivotal," the 23-year-old Frenchman, who has been tipped to earn a national call-up next month, told AFP in an exclusive interview.
"There is the Champions League and these two games against Real, when we can qualify for a cup final and then gain or lose points on them in the league.
"We have to manage them properly. It could be pivotal for the rest of the season."
Real hold a slight advantage in the cup, having taken a creditable 1-1 draw from the opening leg at the Nou Camp last month.
Then Barca were without Messi, whose 50th career hat-trick in their 4-2 win over Sevilla on Sunday was surely one of his best, but Real's showing confirmed their transformation from the broken team that were thrashed 5-1 by the Catalan side in October.
The Copa del Rey semi-final, second leg would be Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde's 100th game in charge. His record reads 67 wins, 23 draws and only nine losses.