Sergio Ramos opens up on his ‘huge respect’ for Lionel Messi ahead of El Clasico

Sergio Ramos insists he has "huge respect" for Lionel Messi, despite the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona .

Ramos is set to go head-to-head with the Argentina star when Zinedine Zidane's side host the Catalans in El Clasico on Sunday.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is enjoying another impressive campaign which has seen him register 23 goals and 16 assists in all competitions and enters the match a week after netting four times against Eibar.

And although Ramos hopes that the Barcelona skipper finishes on the losing side at the Bernabeu, the Los Blancos defender still considers him to one of best players to play the game.

"I have huge respect for him," the 33-year-old told La Liga (via Goal ). "I think he’s one of the greatest players in history and I have huge respect for him.

"I hope Sunday isn’t his day, that would mean we’ve done our job, and if on top of that we can get a good result even better.

"I wish him all the best as a fellow professional but only as long as it doesn’t affect us negatively!

"It’s hard, but he has my maximum respect, I think he’s one of the best."

In addition to the long-standing rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, Sunday's clash holds extra significance for Spain's two biggest clubs in the context of the La Liga title race.

Real currently find themselves two points behind the leaders after a recent dip in form, but would reclaim top spot with three points on Sunday.

Meanwhile, defeat for the hosts would see Quique Setien's side pull five points clear as they look to claim a third successive league title.

Although Real come into the match following back-to-back losses against Levante and Manchester City , Ramos is confident his side can cause the Catalan club problems.

"We’ve played them many times, so we know how to trouble them," he added.

"Barcelona are a team who keep possession a lot. They’re most uncomfortable when you try to take it from them. Everyone knows that, not just Real Madrid.

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