El Clasico: Stage ready for an highly ’emotional’ clash

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XtraTime Web Desk: Legendary Andres Iniesta is set to play his last Clasico on Sunday as this is his last season for FC Barcelona. With little other than pride riding on the biggest club game in world football, Iniesta will likely have even more licence to mark his last appearance in the fixture with a flourish.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has already warned that they won’t give the new champions a guard of honour when the two sides will face each other. The Catalans won the title last weekend and will face the current European champions today.

“After the Club World Cup they didn’t want to do it for us,” Zidane told a news conference.

“They might have said they didn’t do it because they weren’t in the competition, but that’s not true. You’ve got to win the Champions League to play in it and we’re both in the Champions League.

“It’s not up to me to decide about the guard of honour but they didn’t do it. We, with respect, won’t do it for them because they didn’t.

“We respect what Barca have done in winning the league, which for me is the most difficult and nicest thing you can do. But these things happen; if they’d have given us one, we weren’t going to break the tradition of doing so.”

The incident Zidane was referring to happened before the Clasico on Dec. 23 when, having returned from the United Arab Emirates as Club World Cup winners, Barcelona elected not to give Real a guard of honour as is traditional in Spain.

Barca won the match 3-0.

Real, third in the table, secured their place in this month’s Champions League final on Tuesday and are aiming to win the trophy for the third year in a row but Zidane is planning to name a full-strength side against Barcelona.

“While the game won’t change the league positions, we still want to play well and do everything we can to win,” he said.

“If there’s players who still feel knocks, they won’t play, but we’ve got a lot of options to replace them. (Raphael) Varane and Isco should be fine to travel.”

Sunday’s meeting will be the final time Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta plays in the fixture having announced he will leave the Catalans at the end of the season.

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

“We’ll shake his hand, congratulate him and wish him luck for the future.”

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