Alves expects tough Espanyol test

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Barcelona defender Dani Alves has warned his teammates to expect a tough challenge against Espanyol this weekend.

The Catalan rivals go head-to-head in their first La Liga clash following the winter break in Spain, with Mauricio Pochettino's side looking to cause an upset at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat.

Alves is well-aware that local bragging rights means their respective positions in the league, with Barca in 2nd and Espanyol in 8th, are thrown out the window, and that complacency will cost Pep Guardiola's side if they are not at their best.

"The game on Sunday is a difficult one, it's the derby and these types of games are always complicated," Alves told the official Barcelona website.

"We'll face the game with ambition. If we play at a high level, they'll have a difficult time, too."

As for their selection process, playmaker Lionel Messi is once again in contention after playing in the Copa del Rey clash against Osasuna on Wednesday night.

The Argentine international was reported to have a fever ahead of the clash, but make a shock appearance in the 4-0 victory and is again expected to play this weekend.

"[I] just had a tummy ache, nothing else. I never really had a fever. I felt good to come to the stadium and I tried to help the team," said Messi.

"His secret is that he is the best in the world," added Sergio Busquets.

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