Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane attempted to shift the spotlight away from Lionel Messi and onto his own stars ahead of Wednesday’s crunch Clasico.
Top spot will be on the line when Madrid head to Camp Nou in search of their first victory in seven LaLiga games against the leaders and reigning champions.
Los Blancos will be without Eden Hazard but an in-form Karim Benzema and an 11-game undefeated streak spanning all competitions should give Madrid hope of snatching the headlines from star man Messi.
The Argentina great has scored 18 LaLiga goals against Madrid and is set to equal Xavi’s 42-game record for most competitive Clasico appearances for a Barca player.
“Whatever happens, it’s a game of football. We’ll start off with 11 against 11, we’ll see if it finishes like that,” Zidane said at his pre-match news conference.
“We know who we’re up against, a very good side. They’ve proven that for a long time. We know what kind of player Messi is but we’ve got our weapons as well.
“Hopefully we’re going to see a good game of football against a good team that is in form.”
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) December 17, 2019
Zidane tasked then-Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic with man-marking Messi in a December 2017 meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The plan backfired as the six-time Ballon d’Or winner scored in a 3-0 victory for the visitors and Zidane would not reveal whether he intended to return to the tactic.
“Every game is different. At that moment, Mateo was the correct player to mark a player like Messi,” he said.
“Today is different. It’s a different game, a different story, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”
Zidane described El Clasico as the sort match he “lived for” as a player but, even as the bitter rivals wage a title battle, he claimed three points were of secondary importance.
“I hope we see a great game, that’s the most important thing,” the Frenchman said. “I don’t think the important thing is the result, but how we go out and play during the 90 minutes. That’s what will help everyone to enjoy it.
“Things change quickly in football, so I’m just focused on the day to day.
“We try to do our job as good as we possibly can, to 100 per cent, and try to think of how to change things if things don’t go right for us in the game.”