Brazil legend Dani Alves is dreaming of winning the World Cup for the first time in Qatar to leave a legacy in the twilight of his career.

Alves turned 39 on Friday but the veteran Barcelona full-back is still going strong at the highest level.

The veteran has won an incredible haul of medals during his illustrious club career, while he helped his country win the Copa America twice and captained Brazil to Olympic glory in Tokyo last year.

It is 20 years since the Selecao last won the World Cup and Alves missed the 2018 tournament in Russia due to injury.

The Barca great says he has given plenty of thought to what might happen if he lifts the World Cup and hopes to realise that ambition this year.

He told Marca: "This is a question I have been asking myself since I started playing. After I win, what happens? The answer is always the same. We don't live for trophies, we live for legacy.

"But, not for the legacy we leave for people, but for the legacy we leave in people. This is the most important title I'm going to win.

"Is winning the World Cup a dream? Of course it is, but it is the same for all the teams that participate and for everyone who strives to be better every day."

Brazil have been drawn in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Qatar.

Dani Alves wants to stay at Barcelona past the end of this season but acknowledges the club will decide his future.

Having left the Blaugrana to join Juventus in June 2016, Alves announced his return to Camp Nou in November 2021, though he had to wait until January to be eligible to feature for the Catalan giants.

The 39-year-old has contributed one goal and three assists in 13 appearances since then, 12 of them starts, as Barca look to ensure a top-four finish in LaLiga after improving since Xavi's arrival as head coach in November.

After making a positive impact since returning, Alves is hoping to extend his long association with Los Cules past the expiration of his deal at the end of the campaign.

While pledging to always "give 200 per cent" for the club, however, Alves admitted his future would be decided by others.

"I live intensely all day, without thinking beyond that because I don't know what will happen. But what is certain is that I would like to continue because I feel at home here," he told Marca.

"I am at this club and team, which I had to fight to return to for five years and I think I can keep contributing, although it doesn't only depend on me. 

"I'm not too worried about it, though. My mission was to come here and show what I can contribute. I'm not one of those people who thinks, because of my career and everything I've won, that I don't have to keep proving myself. 

"I will always think that I have to prove my worth. I can't do anything else but give 200 percent to the club that I love. But it's up to them to decide. 

"I know where I am in my life and my career, but I also know what's inside me. I think any club that doesn't have me is losing out. 

"If Barcelona want me to renew my contract, I'm delighted. If they don't want me to then I'll say 'thank you very much' and will continue to defend this club to the death wherever I am."

 

Having gone unbeaten in 13 away league games (eight wins, five draws), Barcelona can strengthen their grip on second place in LaLiga when they travel to Copa del Rey winners Real Betis on Saturday.

With things looking up again at Barcelona after the ill-fated tenure of Xavi's predecessor Ronald Koeman, Alves says the club's transfer business will decide whether the Blaugrana can compete for major honours next season.

"It will depend on the transfer market business. That will determine whether the club can aspire to great things or not. You have to get it right and add quality to what you already have," he added.

"Xavi's arrival brought knowledge of the club, of fighting for the badge and history of this club. It is also important to make mistakes because it gives you more experience. If you don't make mistakes, you don't see if what you're doing is right or not. 

"Mistakes have been made and we've seen which way isn't the way to go, so now the club is restructuring again. But we don't know how long it will take. 

"If the new signings take in the idea that Xavi proposes then it won't be long before the club aspires to great things again. If not, it will take a bit longer. But people need to understand where they are and what needs to be done to get good results."

Dani Alves insists "things are going to change" at Barcelona under Xavi, highlighting the way the Blaugrana had reinvented themselves in the past.

Barcelona sit a distant second in LaLiga, but despite watching rivals Real Madrid win their 35th title, can all but secure Champions League qualification by beating fifth-placed Real Betis on Saturday.

Alves announced his return to Camp Nou last November after originally departing in 2016, but had to wait until January to be eligible to play. Since then, the 38-year-old has made 10 league appearances, chipping in with one goal and two assists as Xavi looks to revive Barca's fortunes after the ill-fated tenure of predecessor Ronald Koeman.

As Barca close in on Champions League qualification, the Brazilian, who won 23 major trophies in his initial eight-year spell with the Blaugrana, insists the club will rise again, just as it did after Ronaldinho's 2003 arrival or Pep Guardiola's appointment as head coach in 2008.

"We must be united, be positive, things are going to change, as they changed when Ronaldinho arrived. Before he arrived, it seemed that things were not going [well]," Alves told the club's media channels on Tuesday.

"Afterwards, it seemed that it would not be repeated, we [Guardiola's team] arrived and what happened was historic.

"Now it seems that we are living through this moment of transition, but it will be again. We must be positive and have that faith, that desire and that illusion of things changing and it will [happen] again. 

"This club has a lot of resilience, it has had to reinvent itself several times. You have to hold on to that power that this club has to return it to where it deserves to be. It is a club made to win, to be ahead. We have to keep winning, for people to want to be like Barca."

 

Barcelona have won five of their last seven league games after beating Real Mallorca 2-1 on Sunday, as the Catalan giants ended a run of three consecutive defeats at Camp Nou – the joint-worst sequence in their history.

A talented crop of young talent has proven crucial to reviving Barca's fortunes over the second half of the season, with the likes of Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, Ronald Araujo, and Sergino Dest all featuring heavily for the Blaugrana this term.

Alves, who featured alongside Xavi and an array of other La Masia graduates in Guardiola's all-conquering team, says the former midfielder is the best coach those young players could ask for.

"They have one of the best people who can teach them," Alves added. "They have the best possible teacher, they have to pay attention to what he teaches them. 

They have the qualities to be top, but it is up to them to write their own story. We will help them to be at the top and make their story."

Dani Alves says Real Madrid are lucky they already hold a double-digit margin atop LaLiga following Barcelona's 1-0 win away to Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Barca have lost only two LaLiga games since Xavi took over from Ronald Koeman but they have been playing an almost impossible game of catch up, winning only four of the opening 12 games and allowing Real Madrid to streak ahead.

Madrid are 15 points up on second-placed Barcelona, who have a game in hand, but even with six games to go for the latter the title race is effectively over.

Claiming eight of their last 10 domestic games, including a 4-0 demolition of the soon-to-be champions at the Santiago Bernabeu, the 38-year-old believes Real Madrid are fortunate Barcelona did not get their act together earlier.

"Lucky for them [Real Madrid] we haven't arrived earlier," Alves told Movistar+ post-match. "We always plan to compete differently but in the end, life is like that. We arrived late and had to make a tremendous effort to take the advantage over them.

"We already knew it was very difficult due to the state of the rival and the situation, but I insist, lucky for them that we have not arrived earlier."

The Anoeta had been a traditionally tricky venue for Barcelona, but they have now not lost there in LaLiga since renovations on the stadium were completed in 2019.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal in the 11th minute ultimately proved the difference, but the Brazilian defender believes claiming the three points from San Sebastian was not a simple task.

"We knew it was going to be difficult, because it's always very difficult here," Alves said. "The stadium is very tight, we controlled a little more in the first half and then we lowered the intensity but you have to know how to suffer. In football it's hard to win, but you win.

"We wanted to balance the team a little more and the goal came and decided the game. You have to know how to suffer to win games."

Barcelona's victory over Real Sociedad at Reale Arena on Thursday was "crucial for the future of the club", according to coach Xavi. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game as Barca defeated La Real 1-0, moving up to second in LaLiga increasing their advantage over fifth-placed Real Betis to six points. 

It was the Blaugrana's only attempt on target across the entire game and they had 44.3 per cent possession – their second-lowest amount since 2005-06 – with poor finishing from Alexander Sorloth and Alexander Isak letting the visitors off the hook. 

Barca are now unbeaten in their past 13 LaLiga away games, which is their best such run since April 2019. 

Xavi was pleased with the fact their win came against a top-four rival, even if their performance was far from what he would have wanted. 

"I am satisfied with the three points. They are vital and crucial for the future to the team and the club. It's a golden victory," Xavi said. 

"But I'm not satisfied with the game. The first half, yes, but in the second half we suffered. We have to be honest and self-critical. We haven't been good. 

"We have to improve. This is not the way. It's not been our ideal game. These are three crucial points against a direct rival for the Champions League. 

"It's the game in which I've suffered the most, along with the one against Villarreal. We noticed the fatigue." 

Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba played on after appearing to sustain muscle injuries and signal for substitutions, while Ronald Araujo was withdrawn with a knee problem and Dani Alves also appeared to struggling with an issue. 

"Jordi, Ronald, Pique – we are suffering a lot. There's a lot of fatigue because the calendar is demanding," said Xavi. 

"It's not that we don't train well, it's the way the game is played. And the calendar is demanding. But the effort is spectacular. 

"[Pique] has been playing with discomfort for two or three months … at 35 years old, he is in shape. It's vital." 

Xavi had no issue with Dani Alves' controversial opinion on Erling Haaland's worth, saying he would forgive his former Barcelona team-mate for anything. 

Alves, 38, is back at Barca as a veteran player under Xavi, having featured alongside the coach in hugely successful Blaugrana teams earlier this century. 

Xavi has enjoyed being able to work with his old colleague again, but Barca have their sights set on rather more ambitious signings at the end of this season. 

Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland has regularly been linked with a move to Camp Nou, although Barca are far from alone in admiring a striker whose contract reportedly includes a €75million release clause. 

However, right-back Alves has claimed Kylian Mbappe – widely expected to join rivals Real Madrid – "is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game". 

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland," the Brazil defender told Sport. "Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him." 

Alves' employers Barca, on the other hand, may well be up for splashing out on the 21-year-old – but that does not mean Xavi was concerned by his player's comments. 

"I forgive Dani everything, anything he says," the Barca boss said at a media conference ahead of Sunday's game against Levante. "He's a phenomenon, really. 

"Sometimes you guys complain that you don't have headlines, right? Well, with Dani, it's hard to choose just one. He is a phenomenon. 

"The truth is that the signing of him has gone very well for us, he is a natural leader. It is a spectacle, both for us and for you." 

On Haaland, Xavi added: "We'll see. Yes, we are planning for next year, but let's see. The situation is not easy, especially financially, economically." 

Whether Barca can afford the type of sums required to both sign and pay Haaland remains to be seen, but Xavi is confident he has the club's backing. 

"[The club] know my priorities," he said. "From here on, whatever we can do, well, we are going to do it, but it is true that we have to be very prudent and very cautious because the economic situation is what it is." 

Kylian Mbappe is a more complete player than Erling Haaland, according to Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

Two of the hottest properties in world football, both players are heavily linked with moves away from their respective clubs.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, who is widely believed to be heading to Real Madrid in the close season, has scored 28 goals and assisted a further 17 in 38 appearances across all competitions this term.

Meanwhile, despite a string of injuries, Haaland has been directly involved in 29 goals (scoring 23 and assisting six) for Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22.

Barcelona are among a host of clubs reportedly interested in both forwards, with Manchester City and Real Madrid also in contention to make blockbuster moves.

 

But if the Blaugrana are to spend big on one of them, Alves believes that Mbappe should be their main priority. 

Speaking to Sport, the veteran defender said: "Mbappe is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game.

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland. Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him.

"I would spend a lot of money on Mbappe, but not on Haaland.

"If you are going to make a giant investment, you have to do it in the best way. If it depended on me, I would bet on Mbappe."

Dani Alves says Barcelona "lived a night to frame" after an emphatic 4-0 Clasico victory over Real Madrid on Sunday.

Having not beaten their rivals since March 2019, the Blaugrana ended their three-year wait in spectacular fashion at Santiago Bernabeu.

The in-form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace, while Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres were also on target during the comprehensive rout.

Xavi's side trail the LaLiga leaders by 12 points, but still have a game in hand and are full of momentum after stretching their unbeaten run over 90 minutes to 20 matches across all competitions.

Alves, who replaced Jordi Alba for the final four minutes, was a regular feature in El Clasico during his initial stint with Barca between 2008 and 2016.

When asked if this was his favourite victory over Madrid, the defender said: "It is difficult; winning here is always a pleasure and I would not choose, but always the moment is special. 

"We haven't beaten them for a while and breaking the streak is special.

"Once again, here in the rival's house, we have lived a night to frame.

"The mission is to recover our identity and this will take us to the top. That was always the case, and it will not change. Barca has a way of playing and a philosophy and that is what has made Barca great. 

"LaLiga is difficult, but they are letting us dream and dreaming is free. We have to do our part and see what happens."

Fellow defender Eric Garcia felt the performance epitomised the great strides Barcelona have made following their difficult start to the campaign.

"It's a perfect night," he added. "The first part, even I was surprised by how we played; a spectacular level and we have shown what we are capable of. 

"The season started in a hard way, but we are young, we want to beat the world, and we have to continue like this. 

"It is a spectacular result and hopefully, the following years we can get results like that."

Barcelona will appeal the red card shown to Dani Alves during their 4-2 win over Atletico Madrid in LaLiga on Sunday. 

Alves was shown a straight red card in the 69th minute following a VAR review after he caught Yannick Carrasco in the calf with his studs. 

The Royal Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) competition committee announced on Wednesday that the veteran right-back had been handed a two-game ban because he "would not have had the opportunity to have won the ball" with his tackle. 

That would rule him out of the Catalan derby against Espanyol on Sunday, as well as the trip to Valencia the following week. 

However, Barca confirmed they would contest the decision with the appeals committee in the hope of having the suspension reduced. 

Xavi felt Barcelona were "perfect" before Dani Alves' sending off in Sunday's 4-2 defeat of Atletico Madrid.

The Blaugrana fell behind early on to Yannick Carrasco's well-worked opener, but the home side quickly hit back and soon found themselves 2-1 up.

Jordi Alba's spectacular sliced volley levelled it up, before Gavi headed in debutant Adama Traore's cross – Ronald Araujo made it 3-1 just before the break, and Alves drilled home early in the second half.

Barca looked to be cruising to an emphatic win, though Luis Suarez scored against his former club and then Alves was shown a straight red for scraping his studs down the calf of Carrasco to become the first player to score and get sent off for the club in a single LaLiga game since at least 2004-05.

There was certainly a degree of fortune to Barca's victory, with their expected goals (xG) of 0.6 only half that of Atletico's 1.2.

 

Similarly, their difference between goals and xG was the highest in a LaLiga game this term, highlighting just how impressive some of Barca's finishes were.

Nevertheless, Xavi was delighted with his team's showing prior to Alves' red, with the win taking Barca above Atletico and into fourth.

"Before Alves was sent off, the game was perfect," he said. "We had to go back a bit [after the red], but the first 60 minutes represents the Barca that we all love.

"When we had 11 men, we were very good. We had worked with the 3-4-3 and the 3-5-2.

"We showed solidarity after the expulsion, we defended the area well and we haven't suffered too much."

While victory puts Barca fourth and two points clear of Atletico, Xavi is not getting ahead of himself.

"You have to be humble," he added. "It's an important victory, against the champions. We fell behind and were then patient.

"I think we've played 60 very good minutes, but we have to continue."

Barcelona produced arguably the most impressive performance of Xavi's tenure as the Blaugrana made something of a statement in their 4-2 defeat of Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone brought up Xavi's past criticism of Atletico's style of play in the build-up, though the latter had the last laugh at Camp Nou as Barca replaced Los Colchoneros in fourth.

The visitors did enjoy a promising start with Yannick Carrasco's well-worked opener eight minutes in, but Barca were soon ahead thanks to Jordi Alba's excellent volley and a Gavi header.

Ronald Araujo increased Barca's lead just before half-time and Dani Alves blasted in a fourth for his first goal since his return.

Luis Suarez pulled one back against his former club and Alves was dismissed, but Barca went on to claim a deserved win.

Atletico led in style as Suarez latched onto Koke's excellent pass and fed Carrasco into the box, with the Belgian sweeping his first-time finish into the bottom-left corner.

They were pegged back just two minutes later when Dani Alves crossed to the left and Jordi Alba met it with a spectacular sliced volley that spun high into the far corner of the net.

Another Barca cross proved decisive soon after as the hosts went in front, debutant Adama Traore seeing his pinpoint delivery nodded in by Gavi.

Araujo then made it 3-1 late in the half, smashing in from close range after Ferran Torres headed Alves' free-kick onto the crossbar.

Alves became the fourth-oldest player to score in LaLiga this century early in the second half, drilling home from Alba's cut-back.

Barca were made to suffer as Suarez headed in and Alves was sent off for scraping his studs down Carrasco's calf, but Atletico could not salvage a result.

 

What does it mean? Advantage Barcelona in top-four race

The title is all but out of reach for both Barca and Atletico, meaning securing Champions League football is the priority.

While it is not beyond the realms of possibility that both could finish in the top four, victory for Barca here is certainly a significant boost – and the opposite is true for Atletico, who drop to fifth.

In previous years, one might be inclined to back Atletico in such a race, but they have been so poor defensively that it is difficult to be so optimistic.

Traore makes a statement

Many were a bit surprised by Barca's desire to bring Traore back to the club given he was not even a starter at Wolves, but he did show just how much of an impact he can have. He had a role in Barca's first goal and then set up the second with an excellent cross. Beyond that, his carries caused problems in the Atletico defence, and such an explosive player could be invaluable for a Barca side that has often looked short of invention.

Alves' moment of madness

The veteran Brazilian right-back was excellent for much of the game, setting up Alba's volley and getting a lovely goal of his own, but his decision to scrape his studs down Carrasco's calf made no sense and was asking for a red card. That put Barca under pressure – luckily for him, they got the job done.

What's next?

Barca have the local derby with Espanyol to look forward to next Sunday. Atletico host nearby Getafe the day before.

Dani Alves is urging Barcelona to make the most of Ousmane Dembele while they can, but he also reminded the France forward he has a duty to "defend the shirt" as long as he remains at Camp Nou.

Dembele was strongly linked with a move away from Barca in January after his agent and the club came to an impasse in contract negotiations.

His current deal expires in June, meaning Dembele is already eligible to discuss free transfers with other clubs, though Barca have made no secret of their desire to keep him.

Nevertheless, Joan Laporta claimed Dembele ultimately rejected a transfer to an English club on deadline day, a decision that left the club president somewhat baffled and assuming he already had an agreement with another team for next season.

Laporta accepted it would be up to head coach Xavi whether Dembele was selected for the rest of the season, though Alves seems to think Barca should make use of his talents while they can.

Speaking on Movistar's #Vamos show, Alves said: "This kind of thing happens in football, but as long as he stays at Barca, he has to defend the shirt.

"If he goes at the end of the season, then so be it, but there are still five months left. You have to take advantage of being here.

"One has to be smarter than the situation. We have to think intelligently and take advantage of the fact that we have the player.

"We need unity in the entire locker room. You have to create a healthy environment of positivity, in which there are no bad vibes. If everyone contributes their own, Barca will come back, that is everyone's goal."

Alves returned to Camp Nou in November after leaving Sao Paulo and was eventually able to be registered at the start of 2022.

Three more new signings arrived in January as Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined the club.

But due to UEFA regulations only permitting three squad alterations ahead of the knockout phases of its club competitions, one of the new arrivals had to be left off their Europa League list.

Alves was the unfortunate one and, while he acknowledged a degree of frustration at the decision, he insisted he was not about to make a big deal of it.

"The coach knows what I think," he said. "I am always focused on trying to contribute as much as I can.

"We are employees. The club decides. I came to help, to add things, to bring a degree of competitiveness and winning spirit.

"If helping means staying out [of the squad], fine. They are phases of life that one has to accept.

"I would've liked to be in the squad, but unfortunately there were four players for three spots. I'm not going to catch bad vibes, I will continue trying to help."

Dani Alves is the new signing to miss out on Barcelona's Europa League squad after the club confirmed his omission on Wednesday.

The Brazilian, who rejoined the Blaugrana in November, was finally registered for LaLiga duty at the start of January but will not feature for the club in their European campaign.

Alves was joined at the club by fellow new arrivals Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January, but only three would be permitted to be included in the Europa League squad.

UEFA regulations prohibit any more than three new additions to European squads after the January transfer window.

As such, Barca had more new signings than free spaces, with 38-year-old Alves ultimately the one left out.

Ousmane Dembele has been included, however, despite his contract stand-off seeing tensions rise at the club over the past few weeks.

President Joan Laporta openly suggested the situation might make it "more difficult" for Dembele to feature, though he did leave that up to the discretion of head coach Xavi.

Like Alves, young forwards Ez Abde and Ferran Jutgla were left out of the selection despite breaking into the first-team squad – neither were registered with UEFA at the start of the season, nor do either qualify as a homegrown Barca player, therefore would have been competing with the new signings for spaces in the squad.

Barca face Napoli in their Europa League knockout play-off, hosting them on February 17 before going to Naples a week later.

Twelve months ago, Dani Alves was in training with Sao Paulo in between a disappointing draw with Athletico Paranaense and 1-0 home defeat in the San-Sao derby to Santos.

At the same time, Vinicius was in the midst of a Real Madrid goal drought that began in late October and didn't end until March 1.

Now, they are preparing to face each other in the Supercopa de Espana semi-final, with Alves astonishingly back at Barca and – perhaps even more surprising – Vinicius probably one of the two best players in LaLiga.

It's fair to say that, at this point last year, there were growing concerns Vinicius simply wasn't going to be the player many had hoped or predicted.

While he was still only 20, he didn't seem to have developed a great deal since joining from Flamengo in 2018. If anything, he looked as though he was in reverse, and rumours were beginning to swirl regarding his future.

 

It was a little like when Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu in Star Wars doubts the prophecy that Anakin Skywalker is 'the One' to destroy the Sith.

Yet, Vinicius (SPOILER ALERT) succeeded where Anakin failed, the Brazilian managing to get himself back on the right path. In terms of decisiveness, he looks unrecognisable now, so ruthless that you'd suggest he was more machine than man – just without the helmet and Darth Vader's asthmatic problems.

First and foremost, Vinicius' haul of 12 goals is already three times his previous best in a single LaLiga season, and he's still got almost half a campaign left.

Undoubtedly Carlo Ancelotti's trust will be playing a part. Zinedine Zidane never quite gave the impression he had absolute faith in Vinicius, but the Italian has been unwavering in that regard practically ever since he got the job for a second time.

But Vinicius deserves the most credit.

He's showing much more maturity in his game. He's gone from being the most frustrating player on the pitch to very often being the most decisive.

His expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes is up to 0.49 from 0.3, which suggests he's generally getting into better positions than before – but perhaps even more importantly, though connected to that, is the fact he's averaging 0.67 goals over the same period.

Last season that figure was just 0.14, roughly half his xG, evidence that his decision-making and composure were at a pretty low level.

Vinicius is creating chances more frequently as well (1.9 per 90 mins, up from 1.5), but his biggest improvement is definitely in his decisions in front of goal.

 

Of course, outperforming xG can be a sign of good fortune, so some might suggest his form isn't sustainable – we won't know whether that's the case for a while yet.

But even when you disregard that, the improvement he's shown is massive. He's gone from wasting chances he shouldn't, to scoring chances he shouldn't.

His first goal in the recent 4-1 win over Valencia was an interesting exhibition of his new-found striker's instinct. Not only did he continue his run after offloading to Karim Benzema, he then made his own luck when bundling the ball through a crowd before nonchalantly passing into the bottom corner.

While maybe not an astounding goal in isolation, it's difficult to imagine that passage going the same way last season. Confidence breeds confidence, and he looks almost unstoppable.

With that in mind, the man he'll come up against on Wednesday will presumably be getting himself pumped up for a real challenge.

Of course, Alves has been there, done that, got the T-shirt and wore the hat. If we go back to the bad Star Wars analogies, Alves is Obi-Wan Kenobi. You thought he was gone for good but returns when you need him most.

 

This will of course be his first Clasico since returning to the club in November, answering Barca's call when all they could afford were free signings.

As much as anything, Wednesday's game should provide Xavi with understanding as to what the 38-year-old's ceiling is.

It's unlikely he'll be fazed about the prospect of tussling with Vinicius, though he'll be aware of the standard his compatriot is now playing at.

If Vinicius can be kept quiet, Barca's chances of success will increase exponentially, and it's by no means outlandish to suggest this game could be a turning point in their season, as Xavi noted in his pre-match news conference.

With a recent bank loan allowing them to sign Ferran Torres and president Joan Laporta declaring Barca are "back", all of a sudden the outlook isn't so gloomy, particularly now they're through the worst (they hope) of an injury and coronavirus outbreak crisis.

Xavi's brought through several talented young players already, and then there were injured 'wonderkids' Ansu Fati and Pedri waiting in the wings. They look set for important roles over the rest of the season and beyond – you might even suggest there's plenty of cause for optimism at Camp Nou.

The Supercopa offers a chance to really consolidate the growing positivity, and success in the Clasico might indicate Barca are genuinely back.

Barcelona missed the chance to go third in LaLiga as Antonio Puertas' last-gasp strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for Granada on Saturday.

After Barca had struggled to create first-half chances, Sevilla loanee Luuk de Jong rose to head a Dani Alves cross past a helpless Luis Maximiano to put Barca in front in the second half.

Gavi's late sending off put Xavi's side under pressure and with time running out, Puertas volleyed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to deny Barca all three points.

While the Catalan giants have lost just once in 10 La Liga games, they sit only sixth in the table in the battle to secure a Champions League spot.

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