. @Thi_Alcantara91 : "We want to finish the year with the same confidence"

The midfielder has admitted that none of the players thought at the start of the season that they would have the chance to make the best start to a league campaign in history

As for Saturday’s Madrid derby between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, Thiago told reporters: “Any result can benefit us as long as we win our match”

Thiago Alcántara admitted to reporters on Thursday that none of the players expected to find the team in such a good position at this stage of the season. He is excited about the possibility this weekend of setting a new record for the best start to a league season. He added, “We’re in good shape and we want to finish the year with the same confidence as we have now”.

Weekend Madrid derby

The derby match between third-placed Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid (2nd) will kick off immediately after Barça’s Camp Nou clash with Athletic Club. However, Thiago is quite clear that the most important match of the weekend for Barça is the one against the Basque side coached by Marcelo Bielsa. “Any result between Real Madrid and Atlético can benefit us as long as we win our own match”. And he warned it was far too soon to write off Real Madrid despite the 11-point gap: “They’re always dangerous opponents”.

Turning to Athletic Club, Thiago explained: “They’ve gone down compared to last year. The departure of Javi Martínez has affected them a bit but they have quality players and at any moment they can go up again”.

First complete match

Against Alavés, Thiago played the full 90 minutes for the first time this season. He’s been dogged by injury but he’s keeping things in perspective: “I have the feeling I’ve been unlucky, but we’re playing football, a contact sport in which anything can happen”.

He describes Leo Messi as “the best in the world” but insists there are others who “are not so bad themselves. One scores the goals and others give the final pass. I don’t see much difference between Andrés, Leo and Xavi”.

Finally, he praised one of the Club’s rising stars, Deulofeu: “He’s an extraordinary player. Very fast. I have some good references on him from my brother”.