Relations improve between Barcelona-Madrid players

AP, Thursday 24 Nov 2011

Disappointing recent friendly results have helped improve relations between Barcelona and Real Madrid players in Spain’s national team, according to coach Vicente del Bosque

Spanish players

Spain followed up a 1-0 loss to England at Wembley by salvaging a 2-2 draw at Costa Rica, with the world champions appearing affected by another trans-Atlantic flight. Since its World Cup win in South Africa last year, Spain has lost four and won four of 10 friendlies that have featured matches in Mexico, Argentina, the United States and Venezuela.

While travel may have worn down the team, Del Bosque said worries over onfield spats between teammates from Spain’s two biggest teams were being forgotten.

“After being asked so many times if these matches, long trips and concentrations have had a harmful and detrimental effect on our results, I think that in the human relations aspect the trip was very good,” Del Bosque said on Thursday. “I noticed an improvement in relations, without a doubt.”

Barcelona and Madrid are set to face each other for the seventh time in 2011 on Dec. 10 in a derby match that will close out a run of clasicos that has featured accusations of gamesmanship and racial insults, with the previous match erupting into an on-field brawl involving opposing coaches.

Del Bosque has always maintained that a key to Spain’s success has been harmony inside the changing room.

“Obviously there have been episodes we don’t like to witness, but these kinds of things happen in football,” Del Bosque was quoted as telling Europa Press news agency. “These are football players and they will defend their clubs, but at the same time they represent something more as national team players.”

The former Real Madrid coach said 2008 finalist Germany was setting up to be Spain’s biggest rival to defend its title at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

“I like how they play, their style, the composure they show,” Del Bosque said. “They’ve rejuvenated their team while maintaining the spirit and virtues that German players have always held.”

Del Bosque also revealed that his vote for FIFA’s World Player of the Year award had gone to Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, who is favorite to win the trophy for the third straight season. Del Bosque said that his vote for best coach had gone to Pep Guardiola, who has steered Barcelona to four trophies in 2011 including a third straight Spanish league and the Champions League.

Current Madrid coach Jose Mourinho won the inaugural award after steering Inter Milan to a treble-winning season in 2010.

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