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Pre-game Notes & Quotes: Real Madrid vs Barcelona, ICC

Zidane answers questions about Neymar, Ronaldo

International Champions Cup 2017 - Manchester City v Real Madrid Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Saturday quote round-up is here. Today, we have some quotes from Zidane about Ronaldo / Neymar, and more...

Zidane talks to the press, subduing and virtually extinguishing any thought that any other player will be sold before the season starts...

"I'm relaxed and I'm delighted with the squad. We have the best, we won and we want to do the same again," he told a media conference.

"The squad is very good and I don't want changes. It's only Cristiano [Ronaldo] who isn't with us [on pre-season] but we know that it's going to be a difficult year. Everyone will want to win and that's more beautiful for us."

"It doesn't bother me that Cristiano isn't here for tomorrow," Zidane said. "He has to make the most of his holiday. The rest are ready."

On the elephant in the room, Neymar (unsurprisingly sidestepping the question)...

"We don't look outside much. He's a very good player and our opponents don't need to be told that," he said of Neymar.

"They've always been the biggest rivals for Madrid. It will be a great game. What interests us is playing the game well. We're annoyed about the City result and we want to do better.

"We'll try to be completely focused. Football is about details. If we play as we did the other day, we'll be very happy, but not with the result.

"We lost the ball and we're usually very focused in this regard. But it doesn't matter, we have to do just a bit of work and try to make sure these things don't happen."

Charlie Stillitano — Chairman of Relevant Sports, the organizer of the ICC Cup — did everything to get Ronaldo involved in tonight’s friendly Clasico...

"Unfortunately, Ronaldo's personal commitments precluded him from being here," Stillitano told the Miami Herald.

"He really wanted to be here. This is not a diva situation. He was hoping that he could make it. He waited until today to let us know, but it just didn't work out.

"Mr. [Stephen] Ross did everything possible to get him here, and Cristiano said he was very grateful for that. I'm extremely disappointed, but we still have the two best teams and the top stars minus one."

"We've reached out, we've done everything," Ross (Miami Dolphins owner) said Thursday. "That weekend, he has some complex issues as you all know, back in Spain. I've got a plane waiting. He hasn't said finally no. We’ll probably know relatively soon."

Andres Iniesta answers questions about Neymar in the pre-match pressers...

"He is worth more than $200m or $300m," Iniesta said. "His playing style suits us and he can only improve with us."

"We'd rather people weren't talking about this so much but there's only way it can end: for Ney to speak,"

"I have always said that he’s one of the best players in the world and I hope he stays at Barca for many more years. That would be great news for the club and for him.

"For me, he is one of the best and my team always wants the best. I have no doubt that we all want him to stay."

On the Semedo / Neymar clash...

"It's true that there was that incident, which can be part of a training session," Iniesta said. "But because of the situation and what is being said about Ney, which is worldwide, it has much more significance. For those of us who are training however, it's nothing."

Luis Suarez chimes in...

"It will be a pity if he leaves Barcelona. We will not change the way we love him if he leaves.

"We all want him to stay. He is one of the best three players in the world and we need to enjoy him."

French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris comments on Kylian Mbappe’s reported price tag...

"I'm not surprised at all," said the 30-year-old. "I spent some of the international break with him and he's very, very talented. He's young but has great potential.

"There are a lot of rumours and speculation but the most important thing for him is to be focused on himself."

Saturday due diligence:

  1. For FourFourTwo, I made my yearly ‘bold predictions’, including a couple for Real Madrid.
  2. Ondra’s match preview for tonight’s Clasico
  3. Gerry’s thoughts on pre-season thus far
  4. Latest Churros y Tácticas Podcast, where I was joined by ESPNFC’s Jonathan Johnson to talk about Neymar and Mbappe.
  5. Om’s takeaways from the loss against City
  6. Gabe and I talked about the benefits of signing Mbappe on the latest Managing Madrid Podcast

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