Is El Clasico decisive? Zidane and Luis Enrique take contrasting views
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane refuted suggestions that victory over Barcelona in El Clasico on Sunday would mark a decisive moment in LaLiga's title race, while opposite number Luis Enrique made an emphatic counter-argument.
Madrid are three points ahead of their bitter rivals at the summit with a game in hand and can pile further misery upon Luis Enrique's squad in the week Juventus knocked them out of the Champions League.
By contrast, Madrid overcame Bayern Munich after extra time in both thrilling and controversial circumstances - keeping them on course to be the first club to retain the European title in the Champions League era.
Nevertheless, Zidane is not ready to start attaching white ribbons to silverware anytime soon.
"Sincerely I think tomorrow's [Sunday] game is not decisive. We've got seven games coming up after that," he told a pre-match news conference.
"What we've got to do from here until the end is take it game to game. On Wednesday, we play Deportivo and then it's Valencia.
"Tomorrow's game is important and we'll focus on that one but it's not a decisive game.
"We are not favourites. Maybe outsiders might think one team is favourite more than others, but not us.
"It's always special versus Barcelona, like Ed Derbi with Atletico. It is different but what we are playing for is the same - three points..
"When the referee whistles it is another game, which we need to manage, to do our jobs well, and nothing else. From the start we have to be intense and play with rhythm."
At his own media briefing, Luis Enrique reflected Barcelona's status in the title race by taking the opposing point of view.
"Because the season is drawing to a close, it is a decisive game. This is a Clasico that could decide the league or throw it all back open," the outgoing Barca boss said.
"I think it's the right moment for us to go out and look for a result - it's like a final to us.
"After we see the result, we'll see if it really closes the league off. But no team ever gives up until they are mathematically out of the fight.
"But with the end so close and the fact we're playing Real Madrid, yes it could be a decisive game."
Zidane cautioned Madrid's players against thinking Champions League disappointment will have an negative impact on Barca, who he expects to approach the match with a confidence befitting a club who have won six LaLiga titles in the past eight seasons to Madrid's one
"I don't think it will affect them and if we think about that we're going to make a mistake," the Frenchman added.
"We know what side we're up against.. They're a very good team and they want to prove themselves.
"At any stadium, any pitch they can play. They're not going to feel any pressure about playing in the Bernabeu.
"What happened for them happened and we start again. It's a new game. A different game and we'll see what happens."