Zinedine Zidane keen for Real Madrid to focus on Valencia rather than El Clasico

Zinedine Zidane pushed aside all talk of next week’s match against Barcelona and insisted Real Madrid were ready to put in a strong performance at Valencia to keep pace at the top of LaLiga.

Real face rivals Barca in El Clasico on Wednesday night but Zidane was adamant they are fully focused on Sunday’s Mestalla clash first as they look to extend their winning streak in the league to five matches.

“We want to put in our best performance and we’re fully focused on our next game,” he said in his pre-match press conference, reported on the club’s official website.


Midfielder Casemiro is one booking away from suspension (Francisco Seco/AP)

“We are not going to talk about what is going to happen on Wednesday. If I think Wednesday’s game is the big one, I’m wrong. The important one is tomorrow.”

The visitors go into the game on the back of a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions after signing off from the Champions League group stages with a midweek 3-1 win at Club Brugge.

Midfielder Casemiro is one booking away from suspension and Zidane confirmed he would discuss the Brazil international’s involvement in Sunday night’s late fixture with his squad ahead of making a decision.

He added: “The decision (as to whether Casemiro plays) is up to the coach. I’ll talk with my players because I’m interested in what everyone says.

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“We know Casemiro’s importance and everyone’s. And in the end, I have to make an decision in each game but I am thinking only of tomorrow’s game.”

A much-changed Real team defeated Brugge with Brazilian teenagers Rodrygo and Vinicius both on target against the Belgians, before veteran playmaker Luka Modric sealed the win.

After resting the likes of captain Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos, while France forward Karim Benzema had started on the bench midweek, Zidane was keeping his cards close to his chest about his starting XI ahead of the Valencia match.

He said: “I will not answer you (about the squad). I am sorry but I will not tell you if I have it in my head. I prefer to keep things this way.

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“It will be difficult not to rotate because we have three good, important games, and close to each other.

“I have, as I always like to say, 25 players and I can count on everyone. There are two or three that are out, but in the end I have others and I will have everyone in all three games.”

Albert Celades’ Valencia head into the match on the back of Tuesday night’s 1-0 Champions League victory over Ajax that saw them top Group H.

Los Ches have won their previous two league matches and sit eighth in the table – eight points off leaders Barca and Real with 34 each – and boasting an unbeaten home record in LaLiga this season.

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