Barcelona have admitted that their arch-rivals Real Madrid, look set to pose a much greater threat in the forthcoming campaign than in recent seasons.

Real’s new president Ramon Calderon has appointed former Juventus boss Fabio Capello as coach and this week completed the signings of Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro and Brazil midfielder Emerson, with Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy poised to join late today. Capello will be looking to end Real’s trophy drought which now stretches to three seasons.

“We are conscious of our own strengths but also of the difficulties we face with the new management now in place at Real Madrid,” Barca sports director Txiki Begiristain told the club’s Web site.

“Step by step Real are putting together a team, although luckily we have more stability and can start working together now as our squad is complete,” Begiristain said.

Barcelona have signed Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen and Juve defenders Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta to their squad, as they look to defend their Spanish and European titles.

“Everyone knows we struggled to win the two titles last season and we have to remember that. If we can get our team playing the same way again I am sure we will be able to be proud of the side once more,” added Begiristain.

“Perhaps we will be able to win a title or two but we won’t set a target of how many because it is not fair on the players.”