MADRID – Real Madrid’s head coach Santiago Solari criticized on Saturday the league calendar and said his team would have a day less to prepare than its historical rival Barcelona ahead of their Copa del Rey Clasico corresponding semis second-leg.
Madrid is to take on Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Wednesday after both teams played to a 1-1 draw in the first leg held at the Camp Nou stadium on Feb. 6.
Barça is to be hosted by Sevilla for La Liga matchday-25 on Saturday afternoon, while Madrid is to hit the road to play Levante on Sunday night, thus the capital’s team will have one day less than its Catalan rival to prepare for their clash.
“The calendar is curious,” Solari said at a press conference on the eve of the Levante encounter. “We find it very entertaining. But, since we do not choose this, to play in different conditions, we chose to take it as a major challenge.”
With regards to the game itself, Solari said he seriously prepared for all matches, as the team has “the commitment to fight for La Liga (title) till the end.”
“Against Levante we must pay attention, because we are to face a very fast team in the attack,” he added. “We have to be awake from the very first minute, play our game, press high, be aggressive in front of the opposite goal and make the most of the ball possession.”
Real Madrid currently holds the third spot in the standings with 45 points, nine points behind title-holder Barcelona, and two points behind Atletico Madrid.
The Argentine coach said all his players are available except midfielder Marcos Llorente, who was still recovering from his muscle injury.
“Isco returned to training normally today,” Solari said. “Marcelo is training phenomenally, just like the rest of the team. Only Llorente is still missing and we are looking forward to have him back.”
However, the team’s center-back and captain, Sergio Ramos, is to miss the Levante match as he was booked twice and sent off during Madrid’s 2-1 home defeat to Girona last week.
The Madrid squad completed its preparation for the Levante clash earlier in the day with a last training session in which B Team’s goalie Mohamed Airam Ramos Wade, best known as Moha, participated.