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Zinedine Zidane focused on football ahead of Real Madrid's trip to Girona

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed his rivalry with Barcelona counterpart Lionel Messi is just starting.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo explains what it means to win the 2017 Best FIFA Men's Player Award for a fifth time.
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane says it was a team effort behind his 2017 Best FIFA Men's Coach Award win.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says neither he nor his team will be distracted by political "noise" ahead of Sunday afternoon's La Liga game at Girona.

An already tense situation in Spain worsened on Friday when the regional parliament in Barcelona declared independence for Catalonia, with the central government in Madrid reacting by taking direct control of local institutions.

Madrid had already decided against using their official team bus for the trip to the Catalan city, but Girona confirmed on Friday that the game would still go ahead as scheduled and the visitors say that no extra security measures are being considered.

Speaking at the pregame news conference, Zidane said he had no public view to give on the political situation, as his sole focus was getting three points for his side.

"I just look at one thing -- tomorrow's game," Zidane said. "I know there is lot of noise around, many things, but I do not get into this. What is important for me is what we do on the pitch, and nothing else."

Even Catalan-born Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, sure to start as Keylor Navas remains injured, was preparing for the game exactly as normal, Zidane added.

"[Casilla] plays for Madrid, he is relaxed, preparing his game," he said. "Independent of where he was born, that does not change. We all know the situation, but he, like us all, is only thinking about the game tomorrow, and playing well."

Zidane rested all his senior stars including newly crowned FIFA Best player of 2017 Cristiano Ronaldo for Thursday's 2-0 Copa del Rey round-of-32 first leg win at third-tier Fuenlabrada, and said against Girona he would continue to rotate amid a heavy schedule in three competitions.

"Tomorrow you will see what the team is," Zidane said. "It is true that we have many games, and there will be changes."

Navas remains sidelined with an adductor strain, and Zidane could not say whether either he or also currently injured Gareth Bale would return for Wednesday's Champions League Group H game against Tottenham at Wembley.

"They are getting better, they have not yet trained with the team," he said. "We will see next week, I cannot say yet if they will be there. It depends on them, how they recover from the injuries. We will see on Monday, and decide what we will do."

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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