Zinedine Zidane is aware of the threat a Lionel Messi-led Barcelona outfit will pose in Wednesday’s Clasico, but insists that Real Madrid have their “own weapons” to utilise.
The Spanish champions will meet the Blancos for the first time this season at Camp Nou in midweek, with the Liga title race delicately poised 16 fixtures into the 2019-20 campaign.
Barca sit top of the table at the moment on goal difference ahead of Madrid, who missed the chance to seize the initiative when they took in a trip to Valencia on Sunday.
The Blaugrana dropped two valuable points in a 2-2 draw away at Real Sociedad on Saturday, but Zidane’s men failed to capitalise and were ultimately fortunate to secure a 1-1 draw at Mestalla thanks to a late Karim Benzema leveller .
Lionel Messi didn’t get on the scoresheet in Barca’s latest outing, but the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has hit 12 goals in 11 appearances in La Liga since overcoming a string of early-season injury problems.
Speaking ahead of Madrid’s arrival at Camp Nou, Zidane acknowledged the influence Messi is capable of exerting on the pitch, while warning that his players are fully “prepared” and “happy” to be involved in such a huge fixture.
“You can enjoy it, yes. It’s a football game,” Zidane told a press conference. “We play XI against XI and the substitutions. This is the most important thing. We know who we are up against. We know they have Messi but we also have our own weapons.
“We just want to have a good match. The important thing is to be prepared…and we are. I am not worried about anything.
“We are all happy to be able to play in such a game. I remember when I played [in Clasicos] and it is a match that you live for. We’re just concentrating on the match.”
El Clasico was moved from its original October 26 date to December 18 due to safety concerns amid political unrest in Catalunya .
With protests still ongoing, both sets of players will be staying in the same hotel in the hours leading up to the match, with Zidane dismissing the prospect of another postponement.
He added: “We have to focus our energy on the pitch and believe it will go ahead. It is the only way to prepare for it well.”
The Frenchman went on to address continued speculation surrounding Gareth Bale’s future at the club, labelling him an “important player” when asked whether the Welshman’s conduct remains an issue behind the scenes.
“This is a thing of the past. Bale is with us and is one of us,” Zidane said. “He is an important player for us and has already shown this. Tomorrow he will be prepared like everyone else. I have no doubts about it.”