Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says his side will not offer La Liga winners Barcelona a guard of honour because they did not do the same after Real's World Club Cup triumph earlier this season. That is what is on the line when the new champions take on Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday, which makes the game the more intriguing. The fire has been well stoked by Gerard Pique, who said Real Madrid need not give the Catalans a guard of honour since they did not "participate" in La Liga this season. "We must explain the situation - after the Club World Cup I understand it was not important for them to do it".
Dani Carvajal was forced off in the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich and is expected to miss out, whilst Rafael Varane and Isco remain doubtful. We, with respect, won't do it for them because they didn't. "They´ve won the double and I respect that, and I congratulate them on that", Zidane said.
Zidane's men tend to find an extra gear when facing adversity and it would not be surprising to see several players put in man-of-the-match performances in their attempt to prove their doubters wrong. "We keep trying." To soften the blow, Barca's best response was to win the Copa del Rey and La Liga and finish unbeaten in the league for the first time, while hoping Real do not go all the way in the Champions League. It is true that this year, with the league decided, there is less expectation, but that is normal.
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"El Clasico is El Clasico, and it's always a very significant match in the season", Barca coach Valverde said at his pre-match press conference. But these things happen; if they'd have given us one, we weren't going to break the tradition of doing so.
"I am not going to think about [the Champions League final], as if I did we would not even play tomorrow".
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said in December the "pasillo" had "lost its original essence", adding, "I would not do it and I would not want it to be done to me".
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Midfield duo Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic pose with wives Raquel Mauri (left) and Anna Ortiz (right)If they can achieve the incredible feat and not lose a single one of their 38 games, they would be just the eighth team in European history and first in Spain since 1932 to do so.
Andres Iniesta announced he will leave the Nou Camp in the summer, and has been suffering with a calf issue of late - but he should be fit to play in his final El Clasico. "Whe the game begins, I don't believe the excitement levels will be low". It's a massive rivalry that the teams always dream to win, so expect another thrilling match between these two.
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