Zinedine Zidane is unconcerned by suggestions that his Real Madrid side go into Saturday’s ‘El Clasico’ clash against runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona as big underdogs.
Real sit third in the table 10 points adrift of Luis Enrique’s side, who crushed them 4-0 at the Bernabeu earlier in the season to spark outrage among the Madrid club’s fans.
They vented their frustration on president Florentino Perez and coach Rafael Benitez, who was sacked weeks later and replaced by Zidane. The Frenchman, who like his opposite number Luis Enrique played in the ‘Clasico’ many times, is preparing for his first clash with Barcelona as Real coach and his team, who have won their last five matches in all competitions, head to the Nou Camp in a confident mood.
“Everyone else can say what they want, it won’t be easy to beat Real Madrid, that’s obvious,” Zidane told a news conference on Friday.
“I’m not bothered about that (Madrid being seen as underdogs), all I can say is that we’re going to play the game and be concentrated. What I want to see is a good football match and for my team to win.”
Asked if Saturday’s game was like an exam for his team, the 43-year-old Frenchman added: “No, we are on a good run and we have been doing well recently, we are focusing on our work. It’s an important game, a different game, these games always are but at the end of the day it’s a great game of football that everyone is looking forward to.
“Playing in the ‘Clasico’ is the most beautiful thing that exists in football, and I’m very happy that now I’ll be able to experience it as a coach.”
Zidane confirmed defender Raphael Varane will miss the match due to a calf injury but midfielder Toni Kroos is available despite needing treatment during Friday’s training session.
“We have an idea of how we play and we’re going to try and play the same way on Saturday,” added Zidane when asked if his team would change their usual tactics at the Nou Camp.
“On paper it’s a different game but for us it doesn’t change anything regarding our tactics, we’re going to go out strong from the start.”