The 42-year-old admits he and coach Carlo Ancelotti were shocked by Barcelona’s bold approach at the Santiago Bernabeu and believes his own side are stronger than last season
Real Madrid assistant Paul Clement has revealed he was surprised by Barcelona’s decision to start Luis Suarez in the Clasico in late October, and warned the Catalan club that midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta “aren’t getting any younger”.
Clement, who worked with Ancelotti at Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, helped Madrid secure a 3-1 win over Barca at the Santiago Bernabeu as Suarez made his debut following a four-month ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup.
“They hadn’t conceded a goal when they came here to play us,” Clement told The Independent. “We were a little bit surprised to see Suarez from the start. I thought it was quite a bold selection, with [Lionel] Messi and Neymar, and a midfield of Iniesta, Xavi and [Sergio] Busquets.
“When you see the line-up you can’t help but be impressed and think ‘what a talented team’, but we were able to get the ball past that first line of pressure and then really make those three midfielders defend.
“Xavi and Iniesta are fantastic players, but they are not getting any younger.”
Clement claims he is enjoying his time alongside Ancelotti, but says he hopes to be the main man at another club in the near future.
“I’m enjoying it tremendously and it’s the chance to win big trophies,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I haven’t got my eye on what I want to do next, which is to try to be a head coach somewhere.”
The 42-year-old finished his first season at the Bernabeu with a Champions League winners’ medal and believes Madrid deserved to claim La Decima after Sergio Ramos’ late leveller against Atletico in Lisbon.
“Because we scored so late there was that sense of huge relief and they [Atletico] were left thinking they so nearly had their hands on the trophy, but if you look at the balance of play, especially in the second half, we deserved to win,” he said.
And despite the departures of Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria, Clement insists Madrid are even stronger than they were last season.
“Xabi’s departure was a surprise. We were sad to see him and Angel go because they were good guys and really good players. You are left thinking, ‘That’s a big loss for us’. But then we get fantastic new players coming in.
“The level here is so high, both physically and technically, and it just continues to improve with James [Rodriguez] and [Toni] Kroos coming in.”
Madrid, in action this week at the Club World Cup, will later look to become the first team to retain the Champions League since the competition changed from its old European Cup format in 1992-93.
“No one has spoken about that,” Clement added. “The players know if you keep looking after the small details you are going to end up in a good place. Take care of the journey and usually the destination will take care of itself.”