Empty Camp Nou awaits under-fire Zidane | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 24, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:52 AM, October 24, 2020

Empty Camp Nou awaits under-fire Zidane

Once the undisputed greatest fixture in world football, the Clasico has lost much of its lustre.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Andres Iniesta were among the superstars to move on from Real Madrid and Barcelona in recent years, and this year Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez departed too. Lionel Messi would have left as well, had Barcelona let him.

Usually there would be 99,000 fans packed into the Camp Nou. This time, because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will be none. The huge global audience will remain, but it's a long time since these teams have been at such a collective low ebb.

Barca are struggling to get back on their feet under new coach Ronald Koeman and lost 1-0 at Getafe last weekend.

Real won La Liga last season but the last week gives a more accurate picture of where they stand: Zinedine Zidane's team lost 1-0 at home to Cadiz and then went down 3-2 to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Madrid have lost just once in their last seven visits to the Camp Nou though.

There is good news though for the defending champions, with Zidane confirming that captain Sergio Ramos is set to return from injury for this game.

Ramos went off at halftime in Madrid's 1-0 La Liga defeat by minnows Cadiz last weekend and was also absent as they crumbled to a depleted Shakhtar Donetsk side on Wednesday in the Champions League. However, he took a full part in training on Friday.

"He's our captain, our leader. He's over his injury, but obviously we won't take any risks. He'll be with us, you need players who are 100% fit and Sergio is," Zidane told a news conference.

Despite welcoming back Ramos, Real will be without a number of first team regulars for the trip to the Nou Camp, including Eden Hazard, Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola and Martin Odegaard.

Zidane has come under intense scrutiny over the last week, with some reports suggesting his job might be at risk should they taste defeat in Catalonia, however the Frenchman insisted he has the full backing of his players and the club's board.

"I've won a lot with these players, they've won a lot for me and I'll always be with them until the end, it's they who battle, run and fight and I can feel their support," he said.

"But right now the most important thing is changing the dynamic, and we've got good games coming up to be able to do that in, and that's what makes football so great. When things go wrong, you need to show your character and quality.

"... I can't deny people are saying my future is at stake, but it was the same last year and it was like that in my first spell here, too. I just need to do my job and forget about everything else."

Barcelona, meanwhile, have the returning Jordi Alba available for the game, but will be without long-term absentees Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News