Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane attends a press conference at Valdebebas Sport City in Madrid on December 2, 2016 on the eve of their Liga match against FC Barcelona. / AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists his side travel to Barcelona on Saturday full of confidence after opening up a six-point lead over the Catalans at the top of La Liga.
Madrid haven’t tasted defeat all season amidst a 32-game unbeaten run stretching back to April.
Just prior to that streak starting, Madrid ended a 39-game unbeaten run by Barca by coming from behind to win 2-1 at the Camp Nou.
And Zidane believes Madrid will have far more confidence to express themselves having started very nervously on their last visit before roaring back to win in the final half hour.
“Tomorrow will be totally different,” said the Frenchman on Friday.
“Last year we went there with our buttocks clenched, I apologise for the language, but we need to have the same mentality.
“I want us to be just as prepared as we were last year, but play like we are now.”
Barca’s performance in a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad last weekend was described by Barca boss Luis Enrique as they worst in his three season tenure.
However, Zidane expects the response of champions from Barca to a week of stinging criticism.
“We are playing against a champion and in the big games the champions are always good in the big games.”
Madrid are shorn of the injured Gareth Bale with the Welshman set to be sidelined for up to four months after undergoing ankle surgery.
However, Zidane is hoping Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to form is contagious after the Portuguese scored five times in his last two outings to move clear as La Liga’s top scorer on 10 for the season.
“He is very important for the rest of the team because he has tremendous energy,” Zidane added on Ronaldo.
“He still has the hunger to win and that is good for the group.”