Preview: Zinedine Zidane's first Clasico as a manager sees him face a familiar foe in Luis Enrique
Zidane will hope his first Clásico as a manager goes better than his last against Enrique as a player12:57 Saturday 2 April 2016, 12:57 2 Apr 2016
The last time Zinedine Zidane and Luis Enrique faced off in El Clasico as players, back in 2004, goals by Patrick Kluivert and Xavi were enough to seal a 2-1 comeback win at the Santiago Bernabeu for Los Blaugranas after Santiago Solari had opened the scoring for the hosts.
Enrique, 33 at the time, was sprung from the bench on 57 minutes before Kluivert struck just a minute later to draw the sides level. The goal upon Enrique's arrival on the field might have been purely coincidental but the current Barcelona manager will hope his presence on Saturday night can prove just as influential.
It will be Zidane's first opportunity to manage Real Madrid in a Clásico and, while his influence on the field for Real Madrid was significant, his tenure as the manager of the club has failed to spark the recovery they had hoped for.
Real Madrid finished fourth during that season and while they will want to win to stave off a possible coup by Villarreal to overtake them in third and repeat history by finishing fourth this season, their real aim on Saturday night will be to build confidence ahead of the Champions League quarter-final against Wolfsburg and attain bragging rights in a derby they have not won at the last two times of asking.
Los Blancos have Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo healthy again and during their last outing together, a 4-0 dismantling of a very capable Sevilla side, proved that they can keep pace with Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi when given a chance to play alongside each other.
Lucho, on the other hand, could be forgiven for keeping one eye on Barcelona's all-Spanish quarter-final tie with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday night and could remain cognizant of the travelling commitments of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar during the international break as all three took part in World Cup qualifying in South America.
A second La Liga crown in as many years for Luis Enrique is all but assured barring a monumental collapse but by beating Real Madrid tonight they can remain nine clear with 15 points up for grabs in the league's remaining fixtures.
In what will be the first game since the death of the man who helped Barcelona rediscover why they were 'més que un club' and with not much to lose for either side, expect both teams to turn on the style in the kind of attacking game that even Johan Cruyff might be proud of.
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