Friday, October 20, 2017

Zidane: Neymar-less Blaugrana not the weakest Barca

SoccerNews in La Liga 12 Aug 2017

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Zinedine Zidane rejected the suggestion Real Madrid will be taking on the weakest Barcelona side he has faced in the Supercopa de Espana following the departure of Neymar.

Madrid visit Camp Nou on Sunday for the first leg of the Spanish season’s curtain raiser looking to add to the UEFA Super Cup title they won by beating Manchester United 2-1 this week.

It marks the first meeting between the two Clasico rivals since Neymar’s stunning world-record transfer to Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain, who paid €220million to take the Brazilian to the Parc des Princes.

Despite the breakup of Barcelona’s fabled MSN forward line, Zidane is still expecting a typically imposing challenge from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Co. in what will be Ernesto Valverde’s first taste of a competitive Clasico as Barca coach.

But asked if this is the worst Barca side he has gone up against in his pre-match media conference, Zidane replied: “Not at all. The opposite. They’re a club in the process of changing but Barcelona is Barcelona.

“Nothing is going to change there. If we think it’s going to be easier [without Neymar] then we’re wrong.

“Whoever is going to play instead of Neymar he will do it well. I’m not really too worried about whether Neymar is there or not.”

Cristiano Ronaldo played just seven minutes in the victory over United as he made his return having missed Madrid’s pre-season preparations as he was given an extended break after his exertions for Portugal in the Confederations Cup.

“We’re all fit, healthy, physically we’re in good condition. Everyone wants to play. I’m going to have to make some decisions,” he added.

“Cristiano is ready, he’s in great shape, he’s been with us five or six days, he’s been working hard on his holidays and he’s ready to play.”

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