Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Concerns grow as hobby drone use increases

Read more

WEB NEWS

Buffalo residents share stunning images of the snowstorm

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Senegalese photographer's flashbacks to Africans throughout history

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Hollande photographed with Julie Gayet on Elysée Palace balcony

Read more

REVISITED

Is Beirut still haunted by ghosts of the civil war?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Band Aid 30 - Hit or Miss? Bob Geldof in Hot Water over Ebola Single

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Deal or No Deal with Iran? Home Stretch to Reach Historic Agreement

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Football scandals: The ugly side of the beautiful game

Read more

#THE 51%

Ending violence against women: The dangers of trial by Twitter

Read more

Sports

Independence row adds spice to Barcelona, Madrid clash

Latest update : 2012-10-07

Barcelona will wait until just before the crunch clash against Real Madrid to make a decision on centre-back Gerard Pique's fitness. With increasing Catalonian calls for independence, there may be more at stake than just a football match.

La Liga leaders Barcelona will wait until the last minute to make a decision on Gerard Pique's fitness for Sunday's visit of champions Real Madrid, said coach Tito Vilanova.

The central defender picked up a foot injury in the Champions League two and a half weeks ago and has been left out by Spain for the World Cup qualifiers against Belarus on Friday and France four days later.

Pique returned to training with the Barca squad on Saturday afternoon but Vilanova was cautious about rushing him back for a high-profile match against Real.

"Pique has been out of action for quite a few days," Vilanova told a news conference.

"If he had at least trained in this time we would have more information and I am not in favour of (painkilling) injections because this could give us problems further down the line.

"There is no doubt about Pique's willingness to play because he has dedicated all the hours possible to recover but we cannot fight against nature," added Vilanova.

Barca are already without influential centre half Carles Puyol who dislocated his elbow during the week.

Vilanova is most likely to play midfielders Javier Mascherano and new signing Alex Song in the middle of the defence on Sunday.

The duo have looked uncomfortable when thrown together over the last couple of weeks.

Barca have won all six league games and already hold an eight-point lead over Real who only dropped 14 points on their way to the title last season.

Sunday's game has been given added significance because of the growing political debate within Spain over Catalonia's desire for independence.

Barca, often seen as a symbol of the independence movement, are planning to turn the Nou Camp into a giant red and yellow Catalan flag but Vilanova, like his opposite number Jose Mourinho earlier in the day, refused to get drawn into the debate.

"There are always Catalan flags and mosaics here, they have done it many times before," Vilanova said.

"When we go to other stadiums we see other flags and it isn't a problem. It is only a game of football."

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2012-10-06

  • CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

    Chelsea, Barcelona take Champions League victories

    Read more

  • FOOTBALL

    Real Madrid beat Barca 2-1 to take Spanish Super Cup

    Read more

  • SPANISH FOOTBALL

    Barcelona's Guardiola signs off with cup final triumph

    Read more

COMMENT(S)