Daniel Alves: "Barcelona are the team to beat"

© PA Photos
Daniel Alves insists that Barcelona are still the best club side in the world.

Barcelona defender Daniel Alves has insisted that they are still the best club side in the world despite losing the Primera Division crown to Real Madrid last season.

Barca finished second in La Liga in 2011-12 and also failed to progress beyond the semi-finals of the Champions League.

With Tito Vilanova replacing Pep Guardiola as the Blaugrana coach for 2012-13, there are doubts whether the Catalan giants can remain as formidable as they were in the last four years.

Alves, though, has laughed off those apprehensions, reminding the Barcelona doubters that they are still the world champions, having won the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan last year.

"We're still the team to beat because we're the best team in the world," he told Barca's official website.

"We're the ones that have the logo on our shirts that distinguishes us as world champions."

Alves also expressed his and his teammates' determination to win back the Spanish first division title from Madrid this season.

"I'm as eager as ever," said the Brazilian. "If we lost the last Liga title it's because we weren't as good as the team that finished first. There are no excuses in this club, we have to improve.

"It's all the same to me if we're defending a title or trying to win it. I'm comfortable knowing that the team is competitive, that we have the capacity to fight for all of the titles.

"The team is ready and starting off on the right foot gives you more confidence for the rest of the season. It's difficult to find the right balance if you start with doubts."

Barcelona will begin their La Liga campaign with a home game against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

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