For Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, Saturday’s match in opposition to Actual Madrid may have all the same old strain, star energy and significance of any assembly between Spain’s greatest rivals. Only one factor will make this “clásico” rather less basic: The absence of the 90,000-plus followers that at all times fill Europe’s greatest stadium for one of many greatest video games of the season.
“Nothing has modified a lot. These are two nice golf equipment who at all times should play to win. The one distinction is the shortage of public,” Koeman stated Friday, trying again to the clásicos he performed in as a Barcelona defender within the early Nineties.
“That’s the worst factor that may occur in a Barça-Madrid match,” Koeman stated. “With out followers, it’s much less thrilling as a result of they supply the ambiance and make it extra difficult for the referee. … All of us want the followers. It’s unusual to not have anybody in such an enormous stadium. In such a sport, the followers assist the participant on the sphere.”
1 / 4 of a century has handed since Koeman performed his final sport in opposition to Actual Madrid. In his six-year stint as one among Barcelona’s prime gamers, he was identified for his management and his memorable objectives from set items. He scored fives objectives in 14 video games in opposition to Madrid, with Barcelona profitable six, drawing three, and dropping 5.
The free kick he scored in a 5-0 rout of Madrid in 1994 is barely surpassed within the membership’s lore by the free kick he blasted residence to provide Barcelona a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria and its first European Cup in 1992.
Koeman recalled his encounters in opposition to Madrid, particularly the 2 objectives he scored from the penalty spot in his first clásico.
“I’ve performed loads of clásicos and I bear in mind the 5-0. I scored a reasonably aim from a free kick,” he stated. “I additionally bear in mind my first one, after I scored two penalties. I scored three truly, however the referee made me repeat the second. The primary clásico is at all times a bit extra particular than the remainder.”
Town of Barcelona, like the remainder of Spain, is struggling to maintain in verify a resurgence of the coronavirus. No followers have been allowed into stadiums of league matches because the virus hit Spain, shutting down soccer, and most sports activities, from March to June.
Native well being authorities have to this point rejected the membership’s proposal to regularly introduce small teams of followers to see Champions League matches. No followers attended Barcelona’s 5-1 rout of Hungarian membership Ferencváros within the Champions League on Tuesday.
With Camp Nou empty aside from the gamers, staffs and a minimal of staff, followers might till just lately nonetheless collect in bars to observe matches. However all bars and eating places are at present shut in Barcelona as the encircling Catalonia area tries to gradual the surge in infections.
Koeman gave no hints on his beginning line-up, saying that efficiency, not expertise, was the important thing for him to selecting his gamers. He didn’t rule out that includes his two 17-year-old forwards, Ansu Fati and Pedro “Pedri” González. Each are a part of the rebuilding challenge Koeman pledged to hold out as coach following the membership’s trophy-less 2019-20 season.
Madrid will enter the match after two straight losses, one within the Spanish league in opposition to Cádiz and the opposite within the Champions league in opposition to Ukrainian membership Shakhtar Donetsk.
Koeman doesn’t suppose that may have any impression on Saturday’s sport.
“I don’t count on them to provide us as a lot house as they did in opposition to Cádiz and Shakhtar. We count on to see a Madrid that’s rather more compact,” Koeman stated. “(Madrid) is a superb crew, with skilled gamers who know find out how to deal with strain and find out how to win video games.” For Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, the journey to Barcelona is a perfect probability to finish his crew’s skid.
“I’ve at all times been important of myself as a result of that’s the driving power behind at all times getting higher,” Zidane stated. “A clásico is a clásico, with two good groups going face to face. It’ll be a superb match regardless of the state of affairs and the empty stadium.”