By Chris Burton - GOAL
Vinicius Junior has boldly declared that Lionel Messi does not scare Real Madrid, with the Blancos preparing for back-to-back Clasico clashes with Barcelona and their talismanic skipper.
The first of those fixtures is set to be staged on Wednesday, as Santiago Bernabeu plays host to the second leg of a Copa del Rey semi-final.
That contest, which finished, in controversial circumstances, 2-1 in Madrid's favor, will be followed on Saturday by another derby duel in the Spanish capital.
Madrid head into those outings short of their best, but the same could be said of Barca.
Vinicius insists the Blancos, who edged out Levante in their most recent outing to remain nine points adrift of their arch-rivals in the Liga title race , are ready for the challenges to come.
He told reporters: “We're ready for El Clasico.
“There's two in one week and we know all football fans look forward to them.
“I can't wait to play in it, it's a very important match. Every player would love to be involved in a Clasico!”
Vinicius has taken on a more prominent role at Madrid over recent weeks as other more seasoned stars struggle to deliver the performances expected of them.
At just 18 years of age, he has figured in 25 games across all competitions and registered four goals.
He will be hoping to make a positive contribution against Barca, but is set to come up against a fellow South American who continues to set the standard in Spain.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is heading into a Clasico double-header on the back of a stunning hat-trick against Sevilla.
Vinicius is aware of the threat the mercurial Argentine will pose to Madrid, but claims Santiago Solari has plenty of world-class talent of his own to call upon.
The Brazilian youngster added: “Messi is always there. He's an incredible player but we aren't scared of anybody.
“We're ready and have the best players in the world.”
While Vinicius is feeling upbeat, Real have failed to claim a victory over Barca in La Liga since April 2016, while their last success on home soil came back in October 2014.