JEDDAH: Head coaches Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid and Diego Simeone of city rivals Atletico Madrid said their sides were fully prepared for the Spanish Super Cup final at Jeddah on Sunday night, with both clubs solely focused on winning the tournament.
The coaches were speaking to reporters on Saturday before the game, at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports Stadium.
Zidane declared his players were fully fit despite the absences of Belgium’s Eden Hazard, French international Karim Benzema and Wales winger Gareth Bale, but warned the Atletico’s talented young squad, which knocked out Spanish champions Barcelona in the previous round, were not to be underestimated.
“We came here to Saudi Arabia, and we have a mission to accomplish, which is winning the Super Cup. We certainly know Atletico Madrid and we will do our best,” he said.
Simeone said his side were also ready for the match, despite missing five players through injury.
“We are very confident. We are aware that we are clashing with our rivals Real Madrid, which is considered one of the best teams in the world. It is difficult, but we believe it is possible,” he said, adding that he had trust in his players to do a good job.
“I believe in my players. I seek to strengthen the club — which has done a great job since I arrived — and the players. You look at their faces and they want to improve. All of this excites me and gives me energy. When I feel they’re in good shape, I fear nothing.”
The Spanish Super Cup has previously been contested over two legs between the holders of the La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
The 2019-20 Spanish Super Cup is the 36th edition of the annual competition that started in 1982. Real Sociedad won the inaugural title against Real Madrid, losing the first leg 1-0, and winning the second leg 4-0 for a 4-1 aggregate victory.
The Spanish Super Cup was held only once outside the country — last year when the Ibn Battuta Stadium in Morocco hosted Barcelona and Sevilla, which saw the Catalans triumph 2-1.
Barcelona are the dominant team in the competition.
The number of Spanish football fans who traveled to Jeddah to support their teams during the Spanish Super Cup may be small, but those Spaniards who made it to Saudi Arabia were enjoying every minute of it.
First time visitors to Saudi Arabia — Roy Seed and Max Hernando, from Madrid — are spending a week in Jeddah around the cup matches.
The pair were posing for selfies in front of King Abdullah football stadium on Wednesday night as their team Real Madrid was about to play Valencia.
“It’s just good to be here, the atmosphere is great,” said Seed.
“We’ve come all the way from Madrid and have tickets for both semifinal and final matches. You couldn’t keep me away from this,” he said.