When Sergio Ramos lunged at Lionel Messi hoping to stop him or break something, the thought passed my mind for the first time. The Clasico, Barcelona vs Real Madrid, escalating in importance and hatred between the players since Jose Mourinho took over, might come to undo the wonderful team Spain have had for the last five years.
Some players can do the separation. All the quarreling and rivalry can be set aside once the game is over. Everyone seems friendly when it’s time to play for La Roja. Don’t forget that a lot of what’s ugly and bad in the Clasico matches occurs between foreign players as well – Pepe as the obvious choice, Marcelo, Dani Alves. But there’s enough tension between the Spanish players as well.
A few weeks ago it has been reported that Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique aren’t exactly the best of friends. You can’t expect 23 players, most of them with rather large egos, to get along swimmingly with each other. But we haven’t heard of such problems before. Head Coach Vicente del Bosque threatened that those who don’t get along will be dropped.
If Pique and Ramos do not get along, they’ll be dropped. They are young kids with their differences, but we have no problems.
Lionel Messi isn’t here, despite the fact that you might forget he’s an Argentinian, being a Barcelona player since the age of 13. A lot of times he’s the center of the negative tactics Real Madrid undertake, most memorably in the Copa Del Rey this season when Mourinho’s Portuguese armada tried to bring him down using less than gentle methods.
But between the key Spanish players? Setting aside the Ramos – Pique issue, everyone seems to be friends. The Spanish national team in recent years owes its success to the Barcelona midfield factor – Iniesta, Xavi and later on Sergio Busquets, partnering up with Xabi Alonso in the defensive midfield. Xabi Alonso is usually a prominent figure among the complaining Real Madrid players in matches against Barcelona. Sergio Busquets and his diving/dirtiness don’t usually help keep the tempers at check in these matches.
And now there’s Xavi, deciding to talk about the difference between Real Madrid player and Barcelona players in the way they accept defeat – We have congratulated them when they won. That is sport at the end of the day. We have been very respectful with them. However, I have noted that it wasn’t the same in reverse.
Still, he doesn’t feel there are any problems in the national team due to the immense rivalry. Success, winning, usually takes care of such problems – The national team now lives in a peaceful environment. Before, the people didn’t believe in us. I heard that these players can’t pass the quarter-final, I saw front pages saying they didn’t believe in us and this hurt.
Luis cleared the path for the national team with a style that continues not just because it brought success but because the fans liked it, identified it and could be proud of the way Spain played. Del Bosque and the trainers that came had to understand that this philosophy couldn’t be lost.
If Spain fail to defend their title this summer in Poland – Ukraine, it won’t have anything to do with Barca – Real, Jose Mourinho or Pique fighting with Ramos. Even ‘perfect’ teams lose sometimes, and there’s always someone waiting around the corner to take advantage of the fall.