Valverde full of respect for Real ahead of El Clasico

- Advertisement -

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde is suitably wary of the danger posed by “wounded” Real Madrid in Sunday’s El Clasico.

Real went into the weekend’s fixtures four points adrift of LaLiga leaders Barcelona in seventh place, having picked up only one point from a possible 12 – and their boss Julen Lopetegui is under immense pressure to turn things around.

But Valverde, without the injured Lionel Messi for the Nou Camp showdown, said at his pre-match press conference: “The more wounded Real Madrid are, the more dangerous they are.

“They have good players, a lot of options at their disposal and a great defence. They have enough quality to fight back and they are a great all-round team.

“I am expecting Real Madrid to be at their best.”

In midweek Valverde saw his players rise to the challenge of beating Inter Milan in the Champions League without Messi, who broke his radius during last weekend’s victory over Sevilla and should miss around three weeks of action.

“We have already taken a step forward in that regard and I expect more from the squad tomorrow,” he said, before appealing to the fans.

Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona – UEFA Champions League – Group B – Wembley Stadium
Lionel Messi has broken his arm and will not feature in El Clasico (Nick Potts/PA)

“With them behind us we are stronger as having 100,000 people on your side really helps.”

Under-fire Real manager Lopetegui, who was assured of his job by the board heading into this key fixture, was unwilling to talk about Messi as he recognises just how powerful Barca are irrespective of their line-up.

The former Spain boss told “We are going to focus on the game only worrying about ourselves, and the opponents in front of us.

“We will try to make the most of our strengths and perform to our best in all areas, both in attack and in defence.

“They are a very good team, regardless of whether a certain player is available or not.”

Lopetegui has not listened to reports suggesting he is about to be replaced by Antonio Conte, who left Chelsea in the summer.

Antonio Conte File Photo
Reports suggest Antonio Conte is being lined up to replace Julen Lopetegui at the Bernabeu (Nick Potts/PA)

“We are focusing on making the most of our talents, improving our efficiency in front of goal and on winning a demanding game like the one tomorrow.”

Marcelo is likely to feature despite leaving the European victory over Viktoria Plzen prematurely, while Isco’s participation hangs in the balance, according to Lopetegui.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.