Zidane plays down Clasico security fears, defends Gareth Bale
Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane will not let an unusual build-up to El Clasico at Barcelona affect his side, independence.co.uk. Madrid and their fierce rivals Barca will travel to the Nou Camp from the same hotel two hours before kick-off amid security concerns.
Today’s La Liga game was originally supposed to be played in October, but it was postponed due to safety fears surrounding the violent protests in Catalonia. Those concerns remain, and with more protests planned, it was confirmed that both teams will share the same hotel before the match – the Hotel Princesa Sofia close to the ground.
Zidane said at his pre-match press conference: “That’s something different for us. We’ve been told that we have to leave together and that’s what we’ll do.
“There’s nothing else to explain. The important thing is that the game goes ahead. We’ve got to put all of our energy into performing on the pitch and have to believe that it’ll go ahead. Tomorrow we’ll have a game of football to play.”
Once the football gets under way it will be an intriguing battle as both sides are level on points at the top of La Liga. Barcelona are ahead on goal difference, but Los Blancos are confident of continuing their good run of form and avenging a 5-1 loss in the Nou Camp last term.
“We go into the game in good shape,” Zidane added. “We’ve been playing well for some time now and have been achieving results in all departments, both mentally and in footballing terms. We’re enjoying a good spell. We’re all focused on tomorrow night’s game. In games like this you’ve got to produce your best throughout the 90 minutes. I hope that it’s a great game.
“It’s one to enjoy, regardless of what happens. We start the game with 11 v 11 and know what we’re up against: a very good side, who has shown that they’re just that for some time now. We know that they’ve got Messi, but we too have our own weapons. I want to see a good game of football against a Barcelona side who’re performing well.
“We know what the game’s going to be like and the result isn’t the important thing, the important thing is that we perform for the 90 minutes, which is how we’ll enjoy ourselves.”
Bale attracted more negative this week when he was pictured taking part in the ‘bottle flip challenge’ while on the bench in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Valencia. The Wales international, who could leave the club in January, is being tipped to start and Zidane says he is ready.“He’s with us and is training well,” the Frenchman said. “He’s an important player and has always shown that. He’ll be ready tomorrow, just like they all will be. I’ve got no doubts about that.”
Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde shared a similar message to his counterpart on the pre-match situation and says it should not be a factor.“We are just focused on what we have to do,” he said. “We are purely focused on the 90 minutes and a game of football. It shouldn’t affect us at all, it is a question of eating at the hotel. It is not going to affect us in any way.
“We are watching out for things, we know what people are saying, we are just focusing on the 90 minutes. I think we could have played the game on the original day and there is no reason why we can’t play the game tomorrow. It is unlikely in a situation like this that the players will meet before the game, so I probably won’t see Zidane, but I have a lot of respect for him.”