Barcelona’s manager Ernesto Valverde speaks on El Clasico without Messi and Ronaldo, and whether it would impact the game’s stature.
Barcelona are in solid form since the club football resumed last week after the international break. The Catalan giants have won both of their games against Sevilla and Inter Milan, and will now meet Real Madrid.
Camp Nou will host the season’s first El Clasico later tonight. Real Madrid, however, are struggling with form, as the side is 8th in La Liga. Julen Lopetegui’s side broke an unwanted record for the longest goalless run in the history of the club this season, and speculations over his job have increased by the day.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the two players who revolutionalized the rivalry in El Clasico, will be absent this time. While the Portuguese footballer left Real Madrid for Juventus in the summer, Lionel Messi was forced off with an injury last week and is confirmed out of action for three weeks.
Ernesto Valverde, the Barcelona manager, expressed his thoughts on whether their absence would impact the stature of football’s high-profile fixture.
El Clasico without Messi and Ronaldo:
The Barcelona manager insisted that despite the quality of the two players, El Clasico would not lose its charm.
“No, because El Clasico existed long before those two,” Valverde said on best asked on whether the El Clasico would be a lesser fixture in the absence of Messi and Ronaldo.
Valverde: The Clasico existed before Messi and Ronaldo. There were pigs’ heads flying, there was tension. The Clasico is always the Clasico.
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) October 27, 2018
“There were great players before, tension before – there were even pigs flying, remember?” Valverde said.
The Barcelona boss referred the incident in 2002, when Barcelona’s fans threw a pig’s head at Luis Figo after he switched from the Catalan club to Real Madrid earlier in the summer.
📰 [MARCA] | Dembele’s Clasico chances hit by poor display against Sevilla.
🔷 Dembele has gone from Messi’s replacement to being a rank outsider to face Madrid.
🔶 Valverde would have considered Dembele’s pace to keep Marcelo in defence but now it will be Rafinha or Roberto. pic.twitter.com/8by0JjAhJh
— BarcaTimes (@BarcaTimes) October 28, 2018
Valverde also stated that Real Madrid haven’t received a setback as Ronaldo left the club in the summer. Barcelona, however, lost Messi only a week ago.
📰 [Sport] | No mercy!
🔶 Barça wants to take advantage of Madrid’s crisis to leave them 7 points behind and sentence Lopetegui.
🔷 Valverde: “A hurt Madrid is really dangerous”
🔶 Lopetegui: “I hope I can still breath after the game”
🔷 Denis Suarez and Vinicius, novelties. pic.twitter.com/FEBVNaAxdj
— BarcaTimes (@BarcaTimes) October 27, 2018
“Cristiano hasn’t been in Madrid since the start of the season. We just lost Messi a week ago. We don’t think Madrid have lost this or that player, we look at Madrid now.
🔊 Valverde: “We know the fans will be switched on, supporting us from the first minute. With our support we will be stronger. They will pick us up if we need it.”
🔴🔵 #ForçaBarça #ElClásico pic.twitter.com/Ihot1oYAln
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 27, 2018
“[Injured right-back Dani] Carvajal is a more important absence [because] Cristiano doesn’t play for them anymore,” Valverde said.