Andres Iniesta says the "feeling" around Lionel Messi's participation in El Clasico on Saturday is positive - and has dismissed suggestions Barcelona will face a weak Real Madrid side at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Messi has been absent since injuring his knee against Las Palmas on September 26 but has rejoined training this week and could make his return in the Spanish capital.
Iniesta said at Thursday's media conference: "The feeling on Messi is good. Between today and tomorrow we will see how he is for Saturday.
"If we have Messi from the start we have a better chance of winning. Afterwards we can analyse it and see if we've made the right decision.
"Having Leo with us is fundamental for us but, if he can't play, we still have players in the squad capable of competing with Real Madrid."
Barca are three points clear at the top of La Liga and will face a Madrid side that has come in for criticism for a perceived negative style of football under new boss Rafael Benitez.
Add in injury concerns surrounding Karim Benzema and continued speculation over the happiness of Cristiano Ronaldo and it seems a good time for Barca to go into the season's first Clasico.
The experienced Iniesta has been around too long to underestimate Madrid, however.
He added: "When they ask me about Real Madrid I always say the same thing regardless of their manager, how they are playing... they are always a very powerful opponent. They have some of the best players in the world in every position.
"If you look at their stats this season you can see they are doing very well in defence and in attack - just look at the players they have, they can score goals. Real Madrid against Barcelona is always going to be a difficult game for us, and for them too.
"We've had some good results at the Bernabeu in recent years but to get them you have to play pretty much perfect football because you are playing against a team that demands that.
"Looking at the way things are in the table it's unlikely there will be a big win either way. Sometimes the teams are in different situations in the table but [at the moment] we are evenly matched. We are three points clear but there's no reason why we should feel any more comfortable."