Football is supposed to be a chivalrous game which glorifies the virtue of sportsmanship, honour and mutual respect. Bitter rivalries on the field aside, biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona and Real Madrid are supposed to be role models and are widely expected to set an example with their demeanour.
So what’s the story behind Real Madrid’s refusal to stand in line and applaud the newly-crowned la Liga champions who happen to be their fierce rivals – Barcelona?
A Meaningless Row?
A Pasillo debate was initiated by none other than Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane who openly told live on Sky Sports that his side will not be forming a guard of honour in Sunday’s El Clasico. Such a stance from the French legend is believed to have come as a response to Barcelona’s refusal to stand in honour of Real Madrid’s Club World Cup victory earlier this season, in December 2017.
“If a guard of honour after winning a trophy is a tradition then Barcelona broke it so we won’t do it at the Camp Nou and that’s my decision,” he said.
Sergio Ramos had a say in the matter as well, claiming that Real Madrid players will blindly follow their manager whose word is a ‘gospel’.
Barcelona were given a Pasillo – Spanish word for guard of honour – ahead of their last weekend’s match against Deportivo La Coruna, who honoured the Copa del Rey champions. Having officially sealed the La Liga title on that particular game, the Catalans should be paid a tribute by their bitter rivals this week in a game they stand at 13/18 price to win. Or at least that appears to be a general consensus.
With the forthcoming clash between La Liga biggest rivals coming with little to no significance in terms of its competitive angle, the Pasillo row can be interpreted as a mind game from Zinedine Zidane in an effort to throw his rivals off track.
Real Madrid could use a win at Camp Nou – not only to end Barcelona’s unbeaten run in La Liga – but to claim bragging rights and – more significantly – obtain a vital boost ahead of the Champions League final, the climax of their entire season.
Do Barcelona Share the Blame?
The Guard of Honour debate has generated plenty of interest in the media and with the general public, but the players on both sides of the pitch appear not to be overly interested in taking part in this war of wits.
Barcelona defender mockingly replied that he ‘would lose sleep’ over Zinedine Zidane’s decision and his comments only added to the opinion that Barcelona are not as innocent in this as they appear to be. Having broken a long-standing tradition themselves, the Catalans appear at least equally responsible.
Ernesto Valverde shared his opinion on the matter, saying that a Pasillo lost its significance.
“On the notion of a guard of honour, I wouldn’t do it for anyone, nor would I want it done for us. It has now lost the essence that it had a few years ago.”, he said, commenting his side ‘have recognition towards Madrid’ and their achievements in a reply to his side’s December omission.
Spain’s biggest clubs have exchanged guards of honour in the past and this fact is the biggest argument used against those who are supportive of the abolishment of for many an important tradition.
Barcelona were first to do it – in 1988 at Camp Nou and Los Blancos replied with a Pasillo of their own in 1991 when they saluted the Johan Cruyff-led Barcelona side – dubbed the ‘Dream Team’. Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona were the last ones to respect the tradition in 2008 when even a ‘cule’ Carles Puyol grudgingly stood in respect of his rivals.
The Barcelona legend said at the time that guard of honour was ‘a necessary gesture from a sportsman’.
Did Barcelona bring this on themselves or is Zinedine Zidane pushing it a bit too far?
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