Valverde dismisses Real Madrid 'crisis' talk
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has dismissed the idea that Real Madrid are in crisis following their poor run of form.
The champions have failed to win any of their last three LaLiga matches at home, drawing with Levante and Valencia before suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Real Betis.
Barca have opened up a seven-point gap on their fierce rivals following five wins from five, prompting some to suggest the title race is already firmly in their hands.
Valverde, however, pointed to his side's recovery from their 5-1 Supercopa de Espana thrashing at Madrid's hands as proof of how quickly fortunes can change in football.
"A month ago, we were in a disaster," he said. "There are teams who have zero points. They will think they're in a crisis.
"I don't know what clubs consider to be a crisis. What matters to me is my team.
"It's tough for me to respond to questions about Real Madrid, I have to say. I didn't expect it [their slump] and I didn't not expect it. I'm on the other side of the wall.
"It's too early for me to get my head around it. I'm not used to these things, what do I know?
"You worry about what the teams on your heels are doing, and that's it. I'm sure I'll soon get used to these questions and I'll have a better answer for you.
"We're talking about now, about this week. What matters is what happens on Saturday and Sunday. Some teams will win and lose, some will enter a crisis and others will emerge from one.
"Then you get to autumn, then winter, and before you know it, it's May."
Key to Barca's form has been the performances of Lionel Messi, who has scored nine league goals this term, including four in the 6-1 thrashing of Eibar at Camp Nou this week.
Valverde has no plans to rest the Argentina star ahead of next week's Champions League trip to Sporting CP and hopes he continues his red-hot form.
"I wouldn't usually change a player who's scored four goals!" he said. "So I won't be.
"We know it's a long road ahead and Leo's numbers show he's on track. We want to keep it going.
"I think he's always been known as ambitious in front of goal and a great goalscorer, and that's what we want. He's decisive.
"You saw what Messi did the other day. He's done things people think can't be done. We want to keep that going."
Barca face a derby match with Girona on Saturday at Estadi Montilivi, where Malaga have been beaten and Atletico Madrid held to a draw already this season.
Valverde expects a significant test against Pablo Machin's side, regardless of the local rivalry.
"You know how derbies are. Your opponents look at it as something to enjoy, but also to give everything they have and to fight for it," he added.
"They've had this marked on their calendar, as we have. They'll be at home, where they'll have some extra motivation with the fans there. They played another game they didn't deserve to lose, they played well against Malaga and Atletico Madrid at home.
"They're playing well and we have to be careful, regardless of the atmosphere around the game."