Getty Images

Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski is playing down the intimidation factor that Real Madrid are expected to bring next season with the expected arrival of Kylian Mbappe, which many anticipate will broaden the gap between the longtime rivals.

"Scared? No," Lewandowski said in a recent interview, per ESPN. "Of course, Mbappe is an amazing player and if he joins Real Madrid, the team, the players will be very strong. But our mindset will be like, it doesn't matter how good players they are. If we as a team are working together, with the mindset that we can beat them, we can compete with them."

Mbappe would bolster a Real Madrid team that already holds bragging rights in the rivalry. Carlo Ancelotti's side won La Liga with weeks to go this season and currently boasts a 12-point lead over Barcelona with one more match to go. Real Madrid also beat Barcelona in both editions of El Clasico this season and will play in the UEFA Champions League final on June 1, while Xavi's side were ousted in the quarterfinals by Mbappe's Paris Saint-Germain team.

Despite Real Madrid's dominance, Lewandowski believes Barcelona still have a shot in next season's title race.

"We have to be ready from the first game, from the first minute," he said. "Because Real Madrid, for sure, will have some time when they don't play well, losing points, and we have to be ready for this, to not only catch them but maybe to get ahead of them. Like two years ago, the season before, there were always some games we couldn't win, but we didn't lose."

The Poland international also feels that the increased competition will only help sharpen his own game.

"It's a winning group," he said about Real Madrid's squad, which includes top talents like Vinicius Junior and Jude Bellingham. "No player is a threat to any other. The best club in the world always has to look for the best in every position, always. Being alongside great players will only help me improve, get to a higher level and win more trophies."

Lewandowski took a more optimistic view than manager Xavi last week, who warned Barcelona fans that it would be difficult to compete with Real Madrid considering the clubs' differing economic circumstances. While Real Madrid's finances seem to be as strong as ever, Barcelona have struggled to comply with La Liga's spending rules for several years and have not been able to sign high-profile players at the same rate as their rivals.

"We are going to try to compete," Xavi said last week, per ESPN. "The situation is difficult financially. It has nothing to do with what used to happen 25 years ago, when the coach came and said 'I like this player, this one and this one.' It doesn't work like that anymore. The supporters need to understand the situation. As the coach, I understand what's happening and that's how we're going to manage things. Right now, we are not in the same conditions as other clubs with better [financial] fair play, that's the reality. The fans should know. But this doesn't mean that we won't try to achieve our goals."

Those quotes have reportedly landed Xavi in the hot seat, with club president Joan Laporta unhappy with his "realistic" outlook, per Guillem Balague. Barcelona are now contemplating whether or not to fire Xavi, a month after convincing him to reverse his decision to leave at the end of the season.