Zinedine Zidane is unconcerned by suggestions that his Real Madrid side are big underdogs going into Saturday’s ‘El Clasico’ against runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona.
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 fans.
We have prepared for the game and we are going to try to win it, as we always do. There are three points at stake and we'll do everything we can to win.
They vented their frustration on club President Florentino Perez and then coach Rafael Benitez, who was sacked weeks later and replaced by Zidane, his assistant at the time.
The Frenchman, who like his opposite number Luis Enrique played in the ‘El 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 confident mood.
“We are here to win every game, or try to. We have trained well during the week. We were missing some players but with national teams you can’t do anything about it. We have prepared for the game and we are going to try to win it, as we always do. There are three points at stake and we’ll do everything we can to win,” Zidane told a news conference on Friday.
Asked if Saturday’s game was like an exam for his team, the 43-year-old Frenchman said his side were in a good shape and looking forward to the test.
“We are doing well lately and doing our job. As I said before it’s one more game, of course it is an important and different match because these kind of games are always different but ultimately what people want to see is a good football match and what I want is to see my team playing the way they have been doing lately, nothing else. I am lucky because I’ll be the closest person to the match,” he said.
Zidane added that he was feeling calm and planned on having a restful night ahead of his first Clasico as a manager.
“We have to enjoy playing against good players and measure up against Barcelona but I’m going to sleep well as I always do because I will enjoy, as you said, my first Barca – Madrid as a manager. I just want to enjoy it,” he told reporters.
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.