To maintain Real challenge
sure that they will make us suffer,” the Frenchman said after his team beat Cultural Leonesa 6-1 in their Spanish Cup second leg clash yesterday.
“It’s a game we need to prepare well for but whatever happens, the result isn’t going to be decisive.”
Despite Zidane’s protestations, Barcelona know that defeat would severely prejudice their title ambitions. They will be boosted by the return of captain Andres Iniesta, who has been out with a knee injury since being taken off on a stretcher against Valencia on Oct 22.
Without the inspirational skipper Barcelona have struggled, losing to Manchester City and drawing with Malaga, Real Sociedad and Hercules.
The latter was a 1-1 tie in the Spanish Cup yesterday in Alicante, a game that did nothing to lighten the mood around Barcelona as a difficult spell comes to a head tomorrow.
Even their victories in this period have been disappointing, with narrow wins over Granada, Sevilla and Celtic underlining the problems they encountered without the master lock-picker Iniesta.
With his return they are at full strength for the Clasico, although Jordi Alba is a doubt because of ankle and knee problems.
Real Madrid are missing Gareth Bale, who successfully undertook an ankle operation on Tuesday, which could keep him out for up to four months.
Star midfielder Toni Kroos is also unavailable after fracturing his metatarsal in his right foot against Leganes on Nov 6, with Isco likely to replace him in the side.
Meanwhile, third-placed Sevilla face fellow Andalusians Granada earlier in the afternoon, while Atletico Madrid host Espanyol in the evening.
It has been a disappointing season thus far for Diego Simeone’s side who currently languish nine points behind rivals Real Madrid, in fourth place. They will hope their 6-0 win over Guijuelo in the Spanish Cup yesterday proves a catalyst.
The weekend’s other matches are Leganes vs Villarreal, Real Betis vs Celta Vigo, Athletic Bilbao vs Eibar, Alaves vs Las Palmas, Sporting Gijon vs Osasuna , Valencia vs Malaga and Deportivo vs Real Sociedad. – dpa