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Messi: Madrid have improved

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi says that he has been impressed with Spanish rivals Real Madrid this season and claims that they have improved upon last year.

• Quiniela: The perfect ten

Madrid are currently top of the La Liga table and hold a one-point lead over Barcelona, having finished second at the end of last season, and spent over £50 million on bringing the likes of Fabio Coentrao, Nuri Sahin, Raphael Varane and Hamit Altintop to the club.

Now, Messi thinks that Jose Mourinho's men are in good shape to challenge for the title.

"Real Madrid have strengthened their team pretty well in the summer. They intended to do better than last term and have been doing just that," Messi told Marca. "They have grown a lot since August and are a better team than last season."

The Barcelona star, however, maintained that his side were also improving.

"We have also strengthened in the summer and have improved as well," he said. "It's fundamental that we get along as a team, to have a group of players that play this well isn't easy to find. We've known each other for years and we've always gotten along, this is why we've performed so well."

Having scored his 200th goal for the club in the Champions League clash against Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday, Messi looks likely to break Cesar Rodriguez's record of 235 Barca goals in the coming months, but says he is not focused on the accolade.

"I feel great physically, strong enough to play as many games as possible, like last year, I'm not aiming to break the record this year,'' he said. ''I hope to do it someday seeing that I want to stay here for the rest of my career."

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