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Valverde confident Clasico won't attract trouble despite political climate

Wednesday’s El Clasico will take place with a political backdrop due to pre-game protests, but Ernesto Valverde expects no Camp Nou trouble.

Barcelona fans wave Catalan flags.
Barcelona fans wave Catalan flags.

BARCELONA COACH Ernesto Valverde is not concerned about potential trouble around tonight’s El Clasico with bitter rivals Real Madrid despite the political climate and a planned demonstration.

The Tsunami Democratic protest group – formed of Catalan independence activists – says it has called on its supporters to head to four meeting points near Camp Nou at 4pm local time on the day of the Clasico. It says more than 18,000 are due to join the protest.

Wednesday’s fixture was initially due to take place on October 26, before being postponed for security reasons after a rally was planned on the same day in the wake of nine Catalan political leaders being imprisoned for their roles in the region’s 2017 referendum.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) clarified it will not be held responsible for security after Tsunami Democratic announced its plans, though RFEF did warn of sanctions “if the application of sports discipline is necessary” before, during or after the match.

But Valverde is still convinced the match could have gone ahead in October, as he expects there to be no problems.

“At that time, I thought it was best to play, to give normality to the subject,” Valverde told reporters on Tuesday. “I think the game is going to go ahead without problems.

“There are small [security] changes [Barca have had to make], but they are not significant. It’s the same thing we do when we play away from home. It’s no problem.

“We are at the end of it all, but we are used to having a lot of expectation around our games. We know what is being said, but what concerns us the most is the game.

“The other stuff is things we can’t impact and we just worry about the 90 minutes, which is what we have to do.”

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A Segunda match was suspended at the weekend due to Rayo Vallecano fans calling Albacete’s Roman Zozulya a “Nazi”, making it the first match in Spanish football history to be abandoned for fan chants.

Zozulya has strenuously denied having any far-right leanings and received support from both clubs.

It was put to Valverde that the political backdrop of the Clasico could lead to comparable incidents in the Clasico, though he dismissed that idea.

“I don’t fear anything about tomorrow’s game,” he said. “People can express themselves as long as there is respect for everyone.

“I don’t know what will happen from now on after the suspension of Rayo-Albacete, but football has to unite and not separate.”

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