Real Madrid proved they are ready for the Clasico with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Sevilla, according to coach Zinedine Zidane.
Goals from Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Jese Rodriguez saw Madrid close to within a point of second-placed Atletico Madrid after their defeat to Sporting Gijon.
Madrid’s first game after the international break is against La Liga leaders Barcelona at Camp Nou on April 2 and Zidane is full of confidence ahead of that showdown given the standard of their display on Sunday.
“I’m very happy with the game. We’ve had one of the best weeks in terms of training. This is the fruit of the players’ labour. We played one of the best games since I’ve been here,” he said.
“Every game is different, I’m counting on every player until the end. Everyone is important.
“We can do great things playing like this and the players know that, but in football every game is different.
“Clasicos are always special. We have to keep improving and it was important to head into it with a victory. We’re ready, it’ll be a great game.”
Zidane paid special tribute to Benzema – who scored just six minutes into his first appearance since January – and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who capped a fine display when he saved Kevin Gameiro’s penalty.
“Benzema played very well. He helped us a lot with a magnificent goal. I’m very pleased with his performance,” Zidane said.
“We need Keylor and it’s important to have a goalkeeper like him.”
Barca’s 2-2 draw with Villarreal means Madrid are back to within 10 points of the leaders, but Zidane maintains his side’s aim over the remaining eight games is simply to overhaul Atletico in second.
“The objective is to move above Atletico,” he said. “Now we’re a lot closer. We have to have consistency in what we do. The attitude is fantastic, but sometimes we’re missing consistency across the whole game, although that’s part of football.”