Barcelona defender Carles Puyol says he is ready to face Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season on Saturday, despite returning from a long-term knee injury only last week.
The Barca captain made his comeback from a seven-month injury lay-off in his side’s 0-0 draw with Osasuna last weekend.
And, although the 35-year-old never featured against AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday, Puyol hopes to be in contention for his first appearance at Camp Nou since March, with Gerard Pique struggling with a hamstring strain.
“Just to return to training with my team-mates and to be feeling good is a great joy for me, so imagine what it would be like to be involved in a Clasico,” Puyol is quoted as saying to Fifa.
“It’s a game that everyone wants to play in. I just have to prepare myself and wait to see what the coach decides.
“During the Osasuna game I felt very good sensations. Afterwards, I had my doubts as to how the knee would react, but in the recovery sessions everything went well.”
Although it is early in the season, Barcelona have gained three more points than Madrid, and a win on Saturday will give the Blaugrana breathing space at the top of the table.
However, Puyol believes the result of the Clasico will not decide the league title.
“There is a long way to go and the league will not be resolved in the Clasico, but it is a good match to gain confidence," he said.
“People speak about the game a huge amount before, [and] after they analyse everything, but in the end it is another game of football with three points up for grabs.
“Madrid are always a team that demands the most of you. They have great players and they arrive with confidence."