CLÁSICO

Barcelona's Valverde confident Clásico won't attract trouble

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

Barcelona's Valverde confident Clásico won't attract trouble

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is not concerned about potential trouble around Wednesday's Clásico with bitter rivals Real Madrid despite the political climate and a planned demonstration.

Catalan independence activists have called protests at four points near the Camp Nou at 16:00 CET on the day of the Clásico, amid claims more than 18,000 are due to take part.

Wednesday's fixture was initially due to take place on 26 October, 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 Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) clarified it will not be held responsible for security after plans for protests were announced, though the RFEF did warn of sanctions "if the application of sports discipline is necessary" before, during or after the match.

"What concerns us most us the game" - Valverde

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 [Barça 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."

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

Zozulia 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 Clásico could lead to comparable incidents in the game, 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."