Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane does not expect Saturday’s 2-1 comeback win over Barcelona in El Clasico to have any impact on his side’s Champions League quarter-final versus Wolfsburg.
Madrid pegged back their bitter rivals after Gerard Pique opened the scoring through Karim Benzema and, despite a red card for captain Sergio Ramos moments beforehand, Cristiano Ronaldo fired home a memorable 85th-minute winner to silence Camp Nou.
But Zidane does not want his team to rest on their laurels as they head into Wednesday’s match at the Volkswagen Arena, where they are heavy favourites to seal a first-leg advantage.
“El Clasico? We must only think of tomorrow’s game,” Zidane told his pre-match media conference on Tuesday. “It is a different match.
“If you relax in football, it can cost you. It is important, as we are in a good moment, that we should always be concentrated.
“Every game is important for us, always. We treat every game now like a final.
“We must continue like this because now comes the most difficult part. We won a difficult match but now every game counts.”
Nevertheless, Zidane was pleased to acknowledge the positive impact of beating Barca following a trying season for the 10-time European champions.
He added: “I’m not sure we needed to win in Barcelona to get the backing of the fans [but] to win and in the manner we did makes me very happy, especially for the morale of the players. It is very important for morale.
“I am very happy with everyone at the club. Barcelona was a good moment.”
Zidane won plaudits for his selection of Casemiro in a defensive midfield role at Camp Nou, the Brazilian effectively nullifying Barcelona’s creative stars before Madrid launched their thrilling final charge.
That meant Isco and James Rodriguez looked on as unused substitutes, increasing speculation that the playmaking duo will leave the Spanish capital when this season concludes – not a view to which Zidane necessarily subscribes.
“I’d like to play everyone as they are all very good players,” he continued. “If they don’t play it is difficult, everyone wants to play.
“But I have to choose. We have 22 in the squad and I have to choose 11. James and Isco will have prominence here until the end of the season.
“They will have a role with me. I take a lot of interest in them because I know what qualities they have.”