Valverde insists Barca Clasico win will not settle LaLiga


Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde agrees with Real Madrid counterpart Zinedine Zidane's belief that the outcome of Saturday's El Clasico will not be decisive in the battle to win LaLiga.

Barca travel to the Santiago Bernabeu with a six-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the summit, while they are 11 points better off than their bitter rivals having played a game more.

Valverde's men are unbeaten since falling foul of Zidane's side in the season-opening Supercopa de Espana and he feels there are plenty of twists and turns to come in the new year.

"It won't be decisive, certainly not," he told reporters, with Barca chasing three consecutive league wins at Madrid for the first time in their history. "We don't really talk about consequences of games until the game is over.

"There is no point talking about what would happen if we win, draw or lose until the game has been played.

"No matter what happens tomorrow there is a long road ahead."

Zidane, who held his press conference at the same time, was also dismissive when asked if a Barca win would end his team's title defence.

"No, whatever happens tomorrow we will keep working and keep thinking,"  said the Frenchman.

"There's still a long way to go and tomorrow is just three points. We know we have to play well, but it won't change anything, whatever happens."

Valverde also emphasised form counts for little when Madrid and Barcelona collide.

He added: "I don't think we are favourites. The league table is perhaps of least importance in these games, they are very special games.

"It's about the tension between the teams. They have home advantage, which is very important. So, I wouldn't say we're favourites, no."

Along with the normal cacophony of noise, hype and loathing that comes with world football's most anticipated club match, the latest Madrid-Barcelona clash comes in the wake of Catalan elections that have done little to ease political tensions between the region and Spain's capital.

Pro-independence parties won a narrow majority in Thursday's poll - another of the potential distractions Valverde is keen to steer the gaze of his players away from.

"Sometimes there are so many lights around this game that you are blinded and you can't see into the distance," he added.

"What we have is 11 people against 11 people and we need to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and our own."