Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde believes El Clásico can help volatile political situations: “Football can unite us, not separate us.”
Valverde leads his side into Wednesday night’s encounter against Real Madrid in a game that was postponed from October due to political and social unrest in the Catalonia region.
A record 3,000 security officers employers for the clash at the Camp Nou, with suggestions that 32,000 people will be involved in protests outside the stadium – with the emphasis on peaceful forms of protesting.
The match had been scheduled to be played at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium on 26 October but due to the current volatility of the Catalan political situation, La Liga asked that the game be reversed to Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
That proposal was rejected by both clubs involved and with such a fluid period of unrest in Catalonia, the match was instead pushed back to 18 December.
“Football has to be something that unites us, not separates us,” Valverde told his pre-match press conference, as cited by Marca.
“We are focused on the match and objectives we have. We are not thinking about something other than the game.
“We are very close in every way. Regardless of the difference in points, when you play these games everything is equal.
“The postponement of the match? At that time I thought it was best to play, to keep everything normal. The same is true again. That people can express themselves in one way or another, but they will play.
“Having a coffee with Zidane? Let's see if we can meet. Before a game it will be difficult for us to meet.
“VAR? It was clear that with the arrival of the VAR the controversies were not going to end because football has the controversy inside.
“Everybody sees things from their point of view. We thought that if it was checked (on Saturday) we could have had a penalty. I don't have more to say about it.”