Real and Barca braced for unusual security steps ahead of 'Clasico'

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Real Madrid and Barcelona may find it easier to get themselves psyched up for their rescheduled 'Clasico' La Liga clash on Wednesday, because both sides will spend the hours before the match cooped up in the same hotel.

To minimise the disruption from Catalan independence protests planned for the afternoon, the police have recommended that the two teams stay in the same hotel in the hours ahead of the match and then make the short journey to the Camp Nou at the same time.

"We have been told to travel together and that's what we will do," said Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

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"I don't know if that is giving in (to the protesters). It's something different and we just have to follow the rules. We don't need to do any more explaining. The important thing is that the game is going ahead and that's that."

The protest, taking place in several areas around the stadium four hours before kickoff, has been called by Democratic Tsunami, the group who organised disruptive actions in October in response to the jailing of Catalan independence leaders.

Those protests led league organisers to postpone the Barca-Real match planned for Oct. 26, and when Wednesday's demonstration was announced it led to fears that the match might have to be called off again.

But authorities have promised the game will go ahead and Democratic Tsunami, which says 25,000 people will attend the protest, say they do not want to disrupt the match and only wish to call for dialogue between the Spanish and Catalan authorities.

Despite the emphasis on security ahead of the game, Zidane said he is only worried about the match, which is perfectly poised: Champions Barca lead the standings but are locked on 35 points with second-placed Real.

"We have to put all our energy on the pitch and believe the game will go ahead. We could be talking about what is going to happen outside the match all week, but the reality is we're going to play a game tomorrow," added the French coach.

"We are prepared to play and that's what we want to do. The majority of people just want to see a football match."

Zidane will be without his joint-record signing Eden Hazard as well as veteran defender Marcelo.


(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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