Zidane defends decision not to form guard of honour for Barcelona

Lionel Messi left and Barcelona will be aiming to win el clasico in the final time Andres Iniesta right faces Real Madrid. Ballesteros  EPA

Lionel Messi left and Barcelona will be aiming to win el clasico in the final time Andres Iniesta right faces Real Madrid. Ballesteros EPA

Barcelona have wrapped up the La Liga title with games to spare and are on course to finish the campaign unbeaten.

However, they still hold out hopes of overtaking city rivals Atletico to snatch second place, but to do so must surely come away with a win from the Camp Nou.

"It's not up to me to decide about the guard of honour but they didn't do it".

Real coach Zinedine Zidane told a news conference earlier on Saturday: "We, with respect, won't do it for them because they didn't", referring to Barca's decision not to give their rivals a guard of honour at the December 23 Clasico after they won the Club World Cup. We, with respect, aren't going to do it because they didn't do it. "After the Club World Cup, I understand that for them it wasn't important to do the guard of honor".

Deportivo La Coruna made the gesture ahead of their game against Barca last weekend while Barca gave Real a guard of honour at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2008, after Los Blancos had already won the league. And some say they weren't in the competition, that's a lie. We respect what Barca have done, to win La Liga is the most hard, I have always said that.

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In the long farewell of Iniesta, who will play his football in China from July, there is a World Cup to prepare for and his work at Barcelona from here on is largely ceremonial.

Today Ernesto Valverde only has six at his disposal, with Iniesta also on his way at the end of the season, which is in contrast to Real Madrid, where Zinedine Zidane has eight players from the ranks, a third of his full squad. Having said that, these are two strong teams and we should expect a great game.

Raphael Varane was also a doubt but he has been selected and should start. With Dani Carvajal sidelined with a hamstring injury, right-back has become a liability for Madrid.

"Give up in the league?" You get into it through the Champions League - a completion Barcelona played in. "I'm convinced of that", he added. At home, Barcelona are always hard to beat and with Real Madrid focussing on the Champions League, I see the home side leaving with all three point.

"He's a player we admire, not just any other player, and we all know how he is as a person", Zidane said.

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