El Clasico: No Guard of Honour for Record-chasing Barca

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Real Madrid will opt against giving La Liga champions Barcelona a guard of honour when they visit the Nou Camp sunday. The newly crowned league winners are playing their first game since sealing the championship with a 4-2 win at Deportivo last weekend and Zinedine Zidane said last month his side would ignore convention and not clap their opponents onto the pitch.

This is the first Clasico since 2008 to be played after the La Liga title has already been decided. Ten years ago, Carles Puyol and his teammates clapped rivals onto the pitch.

But Zinedine Zidane was annoyed when Barcelona did not see his side out on to the pitch after they won the Club World Cup in December.

“I’m not the one who decides, after the Club World Cup I understand that it wasn’t important for them to do a guard of honour,” Zidane explained.

“Some say that they weren’t in the competition but it’s a lie, you have to win the Champions League to play in the Club World Cup and we are all in the Champions League.

“I’m not the one who decides that I don’t want to give a guard of honour, they didn’t do one. With respect, we won’t do it because they didn’t do it.”

Barca are four games from completing the first unbeaten season in La Liga history, having already set the record for the longest run of games without defeat in the Spanish top flight.

In league meetings, the Catalan club have not been beaten by Real in the last three encounters, although they did lose both legs of the Spanish Super Cup in August 2017 to Zidane’s men.

Real have won 95 of the 236 competitive games between the pair, although since the days of Pep Guardiola the tide has turned, and Barca have now won 92 times in this fixture.

Zidane’s side secured their place in a fourth Champions League final in five years with a 4-3 aggregate win over Bayern Munich on Tuesday, but are still fighting to finish second in La Liga following Atletico Madrid’s recent slip.

They have a game in hand over their city rivals and trail them by four points, and need to secure a second league win at the Nou Camp in the past three seasons.

Andres Iniesta, who announced last week he will leave the Nou Camp this summer, has been suffering with a minor calf problem – but should be fit to play in his 38th and last Clasico.

For Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal, forced off in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final with Bayern, is expected to miss out while Isco and Rafael Varane are both doubts but travelled with the squad.