LONDON: Luis Suarez has said that he and Neymar have no illusions about their place at Barcelona, insisting that teammate Lionel Messi is the No 1 player in the world.
The Uruguayan and the Brazilian have carried Barcelona for the best part of the past two months in the absence of the injured Messi, scoring 10 goals each and taking the Catalans to the top of La Liga ahead of the eagerly anticipated Clasico at Real Madrid on Saturday.
Messi injured his knee against Las Palmas on Sept 26. Before then he had played every minute of every Barcelona league game since January with the exception of the visit to Atletico Madrid, a game that came just days after his partner gave birth to their second son.
Luis Enrique, the Barcelona coach, left Messi out of the starting line-up that day but brought him on in the second half, and the Argentine responded by scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 win.
"We don't know whether Leo will start the game or be on the bench but he is a player who makes the difference," Suarez said. "He proved that against Atletico Madrid, when he came on for the final half an hour and won us the game. Messi is above everyone else because of what he has done and because of what he continues to do. Neymar is just behind him and I am really enjoying playing alongside them."
Messi's injury has deprived the football world of the most prolific attacking trio in history, who scored 122 goals between them last season to land Barcelona a treble of the Spanish title, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
"Only time will tell if we are one of the best strike forces of all time, but we get on really well and I'm delighted if Neymar scores a hat-trick," Suarez said. "But without the support of the midfield and the rest of the team we wouldn't be able to achieve what we have achieved."
Barcelona head into Saturday's showpiece at the Bernabeu three points clear of Real Madrid, who suffered their first defeat under Rafa Benitez just before the international break, going down 3-1 at Sevilla. In that game Madrid conceded as many goals as they had in their previous 13 outings, their rock-solid defence being the hallmark of Benitez's reign.
Barcelona began the season with a shaky back line but have since kept four clean sheets in a row.