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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Barcelona's Rafinha: Win over Inter Milan a 'great boost' ahead of el clasico

The midfielder opened the scoring in 2-0 Champions League win on Wednesday but says minds are now set to face struggling Real Madrid in La Liga this weekend

Barcelona midfielder Rafinha described Barcelona's Uefa Champions League win over Inter Milan on Wednesday as a "great boost" ahead of this weekend's clasico against Real Madrid

The midfielder, who spent last season on loan at Inter, opened the scoring on 32 minutes before Jordi Alba added a late second to maintain Barca's 100 per cent start to the Group B with three wins out of three.

Lionel Messi - out with a broken arm - watched from the stands at Camp Nou as Barca dominated and the Argentine will miss Sunday's match against bitter rivals Madrid.

Barca head into the first clasico of the season top of the Primer Liga on 18 points, four ahead of seventh-placed Madrid, and Rafinha said he and his teammate go into Sunday's match at Camp Nou full of confidence after an impressive performance against the Italians.

"This result is a great confidence boost for all of us and when Sunday brings the clasico we'll be so up for it," Rafinha told Movistar.

"We are very happy for the match, against a team that was going to make things very difficult for us, we played very well.

"The Champions League is special for us, although the other competitions are also very important.

"But also for the win, for the goal and for the intense motivation a night like this gives me.

"We did very well against a team we knew would cause us difficulties all night. To win like this, Barca had to produce very good football."

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Read more:

Barcelona 'step up' in Messi's absence against Inter Milan in Uefa Champions League game

Julen Lopetegui vows to fight on to turn around Real Madrid's struggles

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Under-fire Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui was assured by club officials he will still be in charge for Sunday's match after an unconvincing 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Lopetegui said before facing Plzen he could not guarantee whether he would be in the dugout to face Spanish champions Barcelona. He avoided the same question after the victory which ended a winless spell spanning five games but did little to dispel doubts about Real's current form.

Club director and former Real striker Emilio Butragueno, however, said there was no danger the former Spain manager would be sacked before Sunday.

"Lopetegui will be in the dugout at the Nou Camp with absolute normality. In these type of situations it's important to stay calm," he told reporters following Tuesday's match.

"We hear a lot of rumours but we are dealing with the situation as normal. I hope the team can put in a good performance against Barcelona."

Lopetegui initially avoided the question of whether he would be in charge against Barcelona by saying "that is not a question for me".

When later told that Butragueno had guaranteed his presence at Camp Nou, he insisted he was not focused on his future.

"You do not change course in one day but I think today can be a turning point for us," he added.

"We have to keep gaining tranquility little by little."