Football

Lionel Messi deserves standing ovation in Santiago Bernabeu

Barcelona Sports director Andoni Zubizarreta believes Lionel Messi would deserve recognition from the Real Madrid crowd if he breaks La Liga's goal record in the Clasico.

Messi is just two goals short of equalling Telmo Zarra's record of 251 goals in Spain's top flight and could potentially surpass the tally should he score against Madrid on October 25.

The LFP have suggested Messi could be honoured at the Santiago Bernabeu should he break the record by scoring in the Clasico at the end of the month, and Zubizarreta - who watched the Madrid fans give a standing ovation to Ronaldinho during Barcelona's 3-0 win in 2005 - feels it would be fully deserved.

"It's something more to do with sports like American football and basketball, it sounds odd in football. But he deserves recognition. I'll settle for a goal against Eibar and Madrid and that we win," he told AS.

"We've seen the Bernabeu applaud Barca players in the past, and vice-versa."

Messi missed a penalty in Argentina's Superclasico defeat to Brazil at the weekend but Zubizarreta believes it will simply spur him on to even greater form.

"I don't think penalty misses affect him. He scored two at the Bernabeu last year. He'd prefer to score to help the team, but I know that Beijing pitch from pre-season and it's not good," he said. "It will spur him on to do better.

"Players evolve and Leo isn't just a goalscorer. He understands the game, he is involved in more phases of play. Goals will always be there but that won't be all.

"Leo plays more inside and Neymar goes into space and that can unsettle teams, but also there are others like Pedro and Munir El Haddadi.

"Our rivals will analyse us and we're always changing - the top teams always do. Last year was difficult for them both with injuries. Now there is more consistency."

Luis Suarez is in line to make his competitive debut for Barca on October 25 and Zubizarreta is confident he would be ready to play following his sessions with a psychologist during his ban for biting.

"Hopefully Luis Enrique has everyone at his disposal for the Bernabeu," he added. "Until now, without him, the season has been going well. Knowing the player, he'll be at the Bernabeu before we ask him.

"The coach will choose those who he thinks will win. I remember after sanctions in the past that he made his comeback against [Manchester] United [for Liverpool].

"He's calm. He's become aware and we try to do things normally. We don't want to make a big story about this [psychological help].

"Playing with Uruguay will do him good and he is relaxed."

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