Zidane focused on Club World Cup despite looming Clasico

Real Madrid's forthcoming LaLiga Clasico against Barcelona will not impact its performance at the Club World Cup, says Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is focused on his side's Club World Cup semifinal against Al Jazira Club.   -  Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane insists the Club World Cup is Real Madrid's primary focus despite a looming Clasico clash with Barcelona.

Madrid's participation in the tournament begins against Al Jazira in Wednesday's semifinal, just 10 days prior to the first LaLiga Clasico of the season.

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However, Zidane remains determined to retain his side's world crown, even though any red card suspensions would carry over to the crucial league fixture.

"It's a competition where we're going to do our best to win," he said of the Club World Cup at a pre-match news conference. "It's not going to be easy.

"But first we have to go through to the final. We just think about winning the World Cup [not the Clasico].

"[The suspensions] are one thing that can happen, that the players could have in their heads. It's a bit strange that the red cards in this World Cup affect LaLiga but, since I am positive, I know that nothing will happen.

"Against Barcelona, we will all be available. It's strange, but we accept it."

Success in this competition would secure a fifth trophy of the year for Madrid - following LaLiga, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Supercopa de Espana - but Zidane played down talk of this being the club's greatest 12 months.

"I do not think it's the best year in the history of Madrid, because Madrid is always Madrid," he added. "But it does motivate us to win the title."

Al Jazira coach in need of three buses

Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate suggested his side need to "park three buses" in order to keep out Real Madrid in the semifinal.

Narrow wins over Auckland City and Urawa Red Diamonds have booked a glamour tie against the European champion, who were formerly coached by Jose Mourinho.

And Ten Cate suggested his team will take a leaf out of Mourinho's tactical playbook for the tie at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

"We need three buses," the Dutchman joked on Tuesday. "Maybe Mourinho can come by and stick two more buses in front of our goal.

"Dreaming is OK, but you must not become stupid, you must be realistic. And if you are realistic, the chances of winning are not really big.

"The difference in quality is just too huge. But my team will fight, like they did before, they will fight until the bitter end."

Ten Cate hinted Al Jazira's players could be overawed by the prospect of facing Madrid's star names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

"If you look up to big players, we watch every day the Spanish, German and English leagues, now you are facing someone like Cristiano Ronaldo who has won five Golden Balls," Ten Cate said.

"And now you are standing next to him in the tunnel to enter the field to play a game against him. I can only imagine what that means to those boys. They are super motivated, I hope they are not too nervous, it's going to be alright I think.

"We don't need to motivate the players, especially the young ones. They play PlayStation on the bus when we go to away games and a lot of them support Madrid, so they know all the players.

"It's kind of funny as the same boys playing the PlayStation on the bus are tomorrow facing the real stars. It's really for them probably a life-changing situation.

"Being here with Al Jazira is probably my biggest thing I did. In the semi-finals of the Club World Cup with a team from the UAE, it is something you almost cannot imagine. We are here and we are proud to be here.

"It's a big surprise that we are sitting here. Nobody expected it. We only believed in it and dreamed of it so it’s a big thing for us. Playing against a big club is going to be something special for all of us. I think our achievement puts the country, UAE football, on the map. Achieving what we have will help give UAE football a boost."

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