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Gaizka Mendieta: 'Barcelona still the team to beat'

Former Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta believes that Barcelona are once again the favourites in both La Liga and the Champions League this season.

Former Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta has said that Barcelona are still the team to beat in both La Liga and the Champions League this season.

The Catalan outfit won the treble last season, but no team in the modern era has successfully defended the Champions League, making another trio of trophies a difficult task.

Mendieta, who twice reached the Champions League final during his time with Valencia, has praised the quality of Real Madrid, but still thinks that Barca are the best team in Europe.

"They're still the favourites for me. They have a team with the same players and same manager as last year, and I think that takes a bit of the advantage from Madrid," Mendieta told reporters.

"But, Madrid is Madrid! We've seen the power they've got, the team they've got, and with [new coach Rafael] Benitez now I think they're going to get better. Obviously it takes time, but I think it's still between Madrid and Barcelona."

Mendieta scored eight times in 40 caps for Spain between 1999 and 2002.

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