Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has shrugged off the idea that Real Madrid are in crisis after a tough start to the season for the reigning Spanish and European champions.
Los Blancos have dropped seven points in their last four league games - all of them coming in their trio of home games against Levante, Valencia and Real Betis - leaving them more than two games behind Barcelona after the opening five fixtures of the season.
However quoted by ESPN FC at his press conference on Friday, the ever-unruffled Valverde said: "Things can change, what do you want me to say? Madrid in crisis?
"They're seven points behind, yes, but Sevilla [are] two [behind], Atletico four...I don't know how clubs deal with each 'crisis,' a month ago the same was said about us. There's always a lot of noise but what I care about is my team."
Pressed on whether Zinedine Zidane's side's poor start had taken him by surprise, he admitted: "It's tough for me to respond to questions about Madrid. I didn't expect [their bad start] but I didn't not expect it.
"I come from the other side of the wall: Either you're Barca or you're Madrid. I have an eye on all of our rivals...[Madrid] have lost games, but we will lose games as well. Some teams will be in crisis, others will come out of it. Then there will be autumn, winter, spring..."
Barcelona themselves face Girona in their first top flight meeting with their fellow Catalan side, and Valverde expressed some surprise when asked whether free-scoring Lionel Messi would be held out of the match against the minnows.
"Rotate Messi?" he said. "You don't normally change a player who has just scored four goals in a game. Leo's numbers show that he's in top form and we want that to keep that going. He's decisive. We are seeing something unique, what he does every week...he's done things people think no one can do and we want him to keep going."