Zidane quizzed over Barcelona unrest after Messi speaks out

By Sports Desk February 05, 2020

Zinedine Zidane does not expect Barcelona to be weakened by the off-field unrest that has blighted Real Madrid's LaLiga title rivals this week.

A potentially damaging row has broken out at Camp Nou after Barca star Lionel Messi hit back at director of football Eric Abidal, who suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's dismissal as coach.

Messi went public with his response in an Instagram post directly referencing Abidal's comments in which he wrote: "When talking about players we should give names, because if not we are all getting dirtied and feeding things that are said but aren't true".

The situation is so serious that former Barca winger Francisco Jose 'Lobo' Carrasco claimed Messi could be on the brink of exiting the club.

But Zidane did not want to wade in on the issue, which he does not believe will derail Barca's season.

Asked if Madrid could take advantage of their Clasico rivals' plight, the Frenchman said: "It's never like that, it's not about that.

"They're not going to be weak, they're a very competitive team. We're not thinking about that for one minute.

"They will compete with us until the end of the season. Good players are always good."

Turning his attention to his own team, who won the Madrid derby last time out and facing Real Sociedad in the quarter-final of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Zidane – who also declined to comment on Kylian Mbappe's apparent discontentment at Paris Saint-Germain ​– added: "We have good momentum, we have to keep going in the same way.

"There's a long way to go yet, we haven't won anything yet and that's what it's all about. You can be happy when you've won something, but we haven't won anything yet."

Madrid beat Sociedad 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in November and welcome them back for a one-off clash in a competition they have not won since 2014.

Zidane anticipates a tough match against a side who sit eighth in LaLiga.

"It's like a final," he said. "It's not like a quarter-final, It's just one game.

"I don't think they're going to come here and give an inch. We have to be really focused, switched on right from the start.

"It's a really good team, as they've shown all season. They play really good football. It's a team that's going to come here and try to do things well."

Zidane refused to confirm if Eden Hazard would be involved following his lengthy absence with an ankle injury.

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    Goals from midfield are a bonus and Casemiro has struck three times in the league for Real Madrid this season, while Camavinga has netted once for a less prolific Rennes. Casemiro has also taken more shots (26 to 10) and had more 'big chances' (four to one), while creating two to Camavinga's one. Both players have provided two assists in the league this season.

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    - Diego Costa has scored just twice in 19 games for Atletico Madrid this season and could be set for a move. Sport reports Roma are interested in the 31-year-old forward.

    - Achraf Hakimi appears likely to return to Real Madrid from his loan at Borussia Dortmund. However, the Mirror reports Chelsea have enquired about the defender.

    - After impressing with Wolves in the Premier League, Raul Jimenez is attracting interest. Sport reports the Mexico forward could return to LaLiga, with Real Madrid and former club Atletico Madrid interested.

    - Out of contract at the end of the season, Pedro is poised to leave Chelsea. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Lazio are interested in the attacker.

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    Tagliafico said it was crucial for Argentina, who are unbeaten in seven games, to develop a strong foundation.

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