Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has remarkably leapt to the defence of arch-rivals Real Madrid over Jurgen Klopp’s “disparaging” comments.
Los Blancos hosted Klopp’s Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday night, battling to a 3-1 first-leg victory over the Reds.
But the fixture was not played at Real Madrid’s regular home – the palatial 81,000-seater Santiago Bernabeu – as it is undergoing a stunning £500million redevelopment.
Instead, the two European giants faced off at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, a 6,000-seater ground which is the base of Real Madrid Castilla – the reserve team.
After his side’s defeat, Klopp appeared to aim a dig at the stadium by saying Liverpool would look forward to the return leg at a “proper” ground in Anfield.
“This here tonight was really strange because it was a difficult situation in the stadium, but Anfield is at least a proper stadium and that will be good for us,” said the German.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane was unfazed by Klopp’s remarks when they were put to him in his own post-match interview.
“I don’t have an opinion about what Jurgen says, we are proud to play in this stadium,” said the Frenchman.
Was Klopp aiming a dig at Real Madrid with his comments about the stadium, or has he been misinterpreted? Have your say in the comments.
While Zidane appeared keen to draw a line under the incident, Koeman waded in on Klopp’s perceived dig as he previewed Saturday night’s El Clasico, which will be played at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.
“Madrid are used to playing on that pitch and the opponents have to play there, and that’s that,” said the former Everton boss. “For players the tough thing is playing without any fans.”
Koeman added: “It’s disparaging to a big club like Madrid (to say it is a training pitch). They’ve chosen the time to do renovation works at their stadium and they’ve chosen well.”
Koeman’s final remark refers to Real Madrid’s timing of the Santiago Bernabeu redevelopment, which has coincided with the coronavirus pandemic when fans are not able to attend matches.
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