Zinedine Zidane claims that the Madrid derby is still important for both teams despite their position in the League.
With only seven games to go for La Liga leaders Barcelona, it seems like it is a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if ‘ Barca win the League. A 3-1 win against Leganes at the Nou Camp on Saturday brought the Catalans closer to the La Liga crown, courtesy of a Lionel Messi hat-trick. Leading with a 13 point difference, it will take a miracle for Atletico Madrid to catch up to the leaders Barcelona. To have any hope they will have to start by beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
However, there has been speculation that this edition of the Madrid derby will not be as important as previous derbies. With both teams close to the semi-finals of the Europa League and the Champions League respectively, and with Barca running away with the title, there is little at stake on Sunday for both Madrid clubs.
The players, however, insist that the derby still holds a lot of weight, especially for Atletico who are not willing to surrender the title just yet. “It doesn’t matter where you are on the table, everyone wants to win,” insists Atletico midfielder Koke. Similarly, midfielder Thomas Partey said: “This game is more important to us because, if we win, we get closer to fighting for the league; we have to make sure we win.”
If Real Madrid wins the derby, they will propel Barcelona closer to the title. Moreover, they will put Barca in a position where they can clinch the title with a Classico victory or even the week before that. If this happens then Madrid will have to line up and applaud the Barca players at the Nou Camp, as tradition dictates, and give their rivals the guard of honor.
Contrary to this, Zidane makes it clear that they will not be handing Barcelona the guard of honor, “We’re not going to do it, that’s it,”. Trailing the leaders by 16 points, the Galacticos have struggled domestically this season.
The Blaugrana will almost surely clinch the La Liga title. And contrary to what Zidane will say ahead of the derby, Real’s main objective now is to win the Champions League. Though they will try and win the three points, there is no doubt that there have been multiple Madrid derbies which have had more weight attached to them. Atletico will also have a point to prove, being in second place in the League. Diego Simeone and his men will hope to bridge the enormous gap that exists between them and Barcelona.