Zinedine Zidane has sympathy with sacked Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde but does not expect Real Madrid’s Clasico rivals to be any less of a threat under Quique Setien.
Barca opted to part ways with Valverde after their Supercopa de Espana semi-final exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid, despite winning LaLiga in each of the former Athletic Bilbao coach’s two full seasons at the helm.
This time around the Blaugrana are level on points at the summit with Madrid, who claimed Supercopa glory with a penalty shoot-out triumph against Atleti.
“I’m sorry for him, first of all. That’s all I can really say,” Madrid manager Zidane told a news conference.
“It’s not a great situation but he’s a coach who’s always shown that he’s very good. I’ve got a great deal of admiration for him.
“Each club and each situation is different. Each coach knows what they’re doing and where they’re at. They know what the situation is at a big club.
“If we lose two games I’m going to get criticised as well. That happened not too long ago. I know where I am and what the situation is.
“We can’t always play well and win, so it is difficult. But what we try to do is give 100 per cent. It’s the same for the coach at Barcelona, we all try and do our best and then you people can go off and talk about whatever you want.
“Things are never going to change, but I’m sorry about Valverde losing his job.”
Setien does not have a major honour to his name in his coaching career but there is excitement over how his all-action, high-pressing style will work at Camp Nou.
“I expect them to be the same as always. Barcelona will always compete with all the coaches they have. Nothing is going to change,” Zidane said.
“They’re going to do their work and we’re going to do ours. Things will always be the same. We’ll always have the same rivalry.”
Madrid welcome Sevilla and Julen Lopetegui to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, somewhat fittingly at a time when a high-profile sacking is dominating the news agenda.
Lopetegui did not last until November in the 2018-19 season after he succeeded Zidane at the end of the Frenchman’s first spell as Los Blancos’ boss.
“I don’t have to give any explanations about any of that,” Zidane shot back when asked why he and Lopetegui had vastly different records with largely the same squad.
“You have to live every different situation, do what you do.
“He did what he wanted to do here. He’s a good coach, he’s always proven that – both before and after Real Madrid
“But I’ve got nothing to say about his period here at Real Madrid. What I can say is he’s a good coach. He’s proven that again this season.”