There will be no guard of honour on Sunday. Barcelona were crowned champions of La Liga last weekend after a 4-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna at Riazor , but Real Madrid have already said there will be no ‘pasillo’ in the Clasico clash at Camp Nou .
In Galicia last weekend, Depor’s players formed a guard of honour in tribute to Barca, not due to the Catalans’ then-imminent title triumph, but because the Blaugrana had lifted the Copa del Rey the previous weekend.
It is tradition in Spain to form a ‘pasillo’ in such circumstances, especially in La Liga, and Barca did it for Real Madrid in 2008 when Frank Rijkaard’s side travelled to the Santiago Bernabeu with Los Blancos having already claimed the title.
“As a culé , it hurts to do a pasillo at the Bernabeu,” former Barca captain Carles Puyol said ahead of that match. “But as a sportsman, we have to recognise the champion and that’s what we will do.”
And they did. Barca’s players stood in two lines to salute Madrid’s players – current captain Sergio Ramos among them – as they walked out onto the pitch and then shook their hands. It showed that, for all the rivalry, above all comes sportsmanship and respect.
So why won’t it happen this time? Essentially, because Real Madrid’s players do not want to. And coach Zinedine Zidane has said they will not form a ‘pasillo’. And that, it seems, is that.
“We are not going to do a pasillo ,” Zidane said last month. “It is my decision. I don’t understand the pasillo thing. We are not going to do it and that’s all.”
Real’s players had wanted a guard of honour from Barca back in December’s Clasico clash at the Bernabeu, which came just a few days after Madrid had won the Club World Cup.
“I want Barca to do a pasillo ,” Cristiano Ronaldo said in the build-up to the game. But Barca boss Ernesto Valverde revealed his side would not be giving Madrid a guard of honour.
“I wouldn’t give a pasillo to anyone and I wouldn’t want anyone to give a pasilloto me,” he said. “It’s lost the essence is used to have.”
Valverde’s argument was that, due to the media, the guard of honour these days is more about humiliation than a sign of respect, which was what it was meant as originally.
And Barca’s official stance was that they would not give a pasillo to Madrid anyway in that situation because they had not taken part in the Club World Cup themselves.
That has given Real a convenient excuse not to honour the tradition this time around. “Barca broke it,” Zidane said last month.
“I won’t be able to sleep tonight,” Gerard Pique quipped when asked about the Frenchman’s quotes. But Jordi Alba said this week: “I’m sure Barca would do it if it were the other way round. We have already done it at the Bernabeu.”
At Camp Nou on Sunday, however, there will be no guard of honour and that is a shame for both teams.
Because it is an opportunity for Real Madrid to show their sportsmanship to the world and, given their miserable campaign in La Liga this term, it could also serve as motivation for their players to ensure their team are in better shape in the title race this time next season.