Real Madrid’s Diarra given easy ride during Ramadan

September 27, 2007

MADRID (AFP) -- Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster admitted on Wednesday that he was not pushing his Malian midfielder Mahamadou Diarra too hard in training during the month-long Muslim festival of Ramadan.

""We are worried about how this matter (Ramadan) affects Diarra. We respect that many people have his beliefs and so what is important is that we continue to improve how he is treated,"" said Schuster.
""We are not going to push him during training, and we have put the brakes on the intensity because he doesn't have the opportunity to eat afterwards,"" added Schuster.
""The idea is that he doesn't work too hard during the week and then he will be in good shape for the weekend. He has already said that he feels better than last year and that's important.""
Schuster said that Diarra's observance of Ramadan, which started on September 13, would not effect whether the devout Muslim was in Real's starting lineup, not withstanding him rotating his squad.
Diarra played 90 minutes in both of the Spanish champions' La Liga games since the start of Ramadan although he was suspended for Real's 2-1 win over Werder Bremen in the Champions League on September 18.