Schuster plays down el clasico
The Real Madrid boss refuses to drawn on his return to the Nou Camp.
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2007 16:18 GMT

 Bernd Schuster now lead sthe charge for Real
Madrid  [AFP]
Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster played down the personal importance of returning to the Nou Camp to face his former club Barcelona in Sunday's "el clasico" and said he is just out to enjoy the occasion.

"For a lot of people it is an extra special match but for me it is not that special, it is just a great occasion for everyone who knows about Spanish football," he told a news conference after training on Saturday.

"Of course everyone wants to be involved in matches like this as I have first as a player and then as a coach. You have to enjoy the game and everything that surrounds it, understand its importance but not lose your head.”

Schuster, who took charge of Real at the start of this season, joined Barcelona in 1980 but became one of the select band of players to join the arch-rivals when he defected to the Bernabeu in 1988.

But the former German international, who is celebrating his 48th birthday on Saturday, said he was not too concerned about the renewal of the rivalry.

"I don't give that much importance to it though, it is just nice to return to a stadium where I played for many years but nothing more than that."

Real go into Sunday's match with a four-point lead over Barca in the standings, but Schuster said their respective positions in the league would count for little.

"It is good that we are going into the game as leaders, but in this type of game that doesn't matter very much. These games are marked by intense rivalry and motivation and statistics and form count for very little.”

Despite the tension Schuster expected fans would see a high-quality match at the Nou Camp.

"These are the two sides in Spain that have an obligation to play good football. Both sides like to have the ball at their feet and both teams will be trying to keep possession for as long as possible."

He said that the return to fitness of Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o would be balanced by the Catalans' loss of influential Argentine forward Lionel Messi.

"Eto'o's reappearance is very important after being out for so long and he has already demonstrated the class we all know he has, but the loss of Messi is also very important. They have gained something with Eto'o's return but also lost a great player.”

Schuster added that playmaker Guti would be fit to take part in the game after recovering from a minor ankle strain.

"He's in perfect condition, he trained well and is ready to play."

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