Vilanova calm ahead of first ‘Clasico’ storm
Barcelona’s new coach Tito Vilanova has one of the toughest acts to follow in replacing Pep Guardiola although he is not showing any sign of nerves ahead of his first showdown with Real Madrid.
“I don’t have anything riding on the result of this game. I like to experience this profession calmly. I am sorry, but there are more important things in my life,” Vilanova told a news conference on Wednesday.
Vilanova’s side host the La Liga champions in the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Thursday (2030 GMT) in a match that should be a flavour of things to come between the two fierce rivals over another long and hard season.
“I know it is important, but I couldn’t do my job properly if I was worrying whether the world would fall on top of me if we lost,” added Vilanova, who was jabbed in the eye by Real boss Jose Mourinho in the Super Cup last August during a scuffle.
The Portuguese manager calmed tensions earlier this month by saying he was wrong and Vilanova has also sought to put the incident behind him and concentrate on his new job following the departure of Guardiola.
Guardiola, who stepped down at the end of last season, had a remarkable record against Real and in his four seasons at the helm won nine out of 15 ‘Clasicos’, drew four and lost only twice.
Barca started their league campaign with a comfortable 5-1 win at home to Real Sociedad last weekend, when the team looked to have a bite and hunger that was perhaps missing at the end of last season.
In contrast, Real looked sluggish in their 1-1 home draw with Valencia but Vilanova played down the significance of the results.
“Neither team is at its optimum level at present. I don’t see much of a difference between them at present.”
Barca signing Alex Song, bought from Arsenal on Monday, trained for the first time with his new colleagues on Wednesday.
Vilanova did not say whether the 19 million euros Cameroon international could get his first minutes against Mourinho’s side.
“We will decide tomorrow. He has only been here a short time. He is a player with great ability, but we shall see. I think he will adapt and fit in very quickly.”