Reports suggest that Barcelona and Real Madrid will arrive together for the first Clasico of the 2019/20 league season amid security concerns in the Catalan capital.
Authorities in Spain have asked the two teams to make their bus trips to the Camp Nou simultaneously on Wednesday as thousands of Catalan separatists plan to stage a protest near the stadium. Both sides will also be accommodated in the same hotel near the stadium.
According to reports, at least 25,000 separatists may protest around the stadium, and there are thoughts that they could also carry out a similar action in the match venue that will be sitting almost 100,000 fans who’ll come to witness one of the most-watched games of the season.
Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidan said on Tuesday: “It will be different than usual, but they told us to leave the hotel together and that’s what we will do,”
“The important thing is that we play the game.”
The Police have also made preparations for a 3,000 strong special detail comprising police and private security staff to ensure that the buses of both teams arrive safely and avoid any interruptions to the game.
It can be recalled that the game was originally scheduled for October 26. However, it was postponed due to fears of separatists who were engaging in violent protests at the time and could hamper the progress of the match.
“We have to focus our energies on the things that will happen on the field,” Zidane said.
“Everything else – what happens outside – we could be here talking about that for an entire week. We will focus on the field. We will be playing a soccer match.”
Barcelona and Real Madrid are joint top of the La Liga with the Catalans leading on goal difference.
“We have been playing well recently, we have been achieving good results,” Zidane said. “We arrive for the match feeling good.”
The Los Blancos are currently on a run of 11 unbeaten games in all competitions comprising 8 wins and 3 draws. However, they’ve not beaten Barcelona in the last 6 Clasico encounters since the 2017 Spanish Super Cup. They last beat Barcelona in the league in April 2016 at the Camp Nou.
Meanwhile, Barca are also unbeaten in 9 consecutive games in all competitions. Speaking ahead of the game, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde said:
“We are aware of everything that surrounds the game,” he said.
“We know people are talking about that, but what really worries us is what will happen on the field. We can’t do much else about the other things. We are not thinking about anything other than the 90 minutes of this match.”
He pointed out that events outside the pitch have not challenged their preparations for the game.
“These matches are always difficult,” Valverde said. “This one maybe is special because we are tied in the standings, not because of anything else.”
“In these matches, the teams are always well-prepared and the motivation is what counts the most,” Valverde said.