Gerard Pique has reflected on Barcelona’s financial position compared to Real Madrid and on the media’s role in heightening the Clasico rivalry.
Beyond the weekend’s trip to Osasuna and the midweek Champions League clash with Milan, Barca will play host in Week 10 of La Liga for the first Clasico of the season.
For Pique, recent animosity between the two camps is partly down to the type of media coverage in Spain that surrounds the game.
“The media influences us in approaching a Clasico,” the 26-year-old has considered in an interview with Marca this week.
“As much as I try not to read about it, you put on the TV and there is talk of football. There are some programmes where people are consistent and discuss things, but less and less.
“Instead, there are programmes that are based on [former Spanish talkshow] Salsa Rosa, where everyone says what they feel like. It is impossible to remain unmoved.
“The media can influence and encourage you to think: ‘Damn, the Madrid players are like this’, but in the end they are professionals like us.
“For much of our history there has been a healthy rivalry. In 2011 there was that moment when if we had not taken a step back there could have been a real problem.
“We are lucky that the national team has had people mature enough to see that a resolution was needed to the situation.”
Pique reflected on Cristiano Ronaldo. Whilst rivals in the Clasico, the duo were teammates at Manchester United and the defender still sees the Portuguese in the same light as those days at Old Trafford.
“He has not changed. I admire him because he is a worker who always wants more and more. He is a machine, he is ambitious.
“He is very strong, of course, but he will never stop fighting to improve. I also think that the rivalry with Leo has helped him to keep improving.”
Pique was recently critical of Real Madrid’s spending in the transfer market, implying that they also benefited from assistance from state-run banks.
“We are unable to compete with them for how much they spend. In the last 10 or 15 years, a generation has left the youth set-up and helped us to compete. Without this unique generation, it would be impossible to compete.
“Madrid, in a year when they haven’t won any titles, can spend €160m on three players. Barcelona cannot do that. We are different because we can compete with them without spending much money.
“We can obviously make some signings like that of Neymar for €60m or €70m, but not two or three players. We are not a poor club, but in those that we compete with, we are not the richest.
“If you think about it, the starting line-up at Real Madrid and for all that they have cost, like with Coentrao, and then go over those at Barca, there is no comparison.
“If you consider Madrid only as a club, it loses that intangible something that is not seen, but that gives it meaning.
“Barcelona are closely linked to Catalonia, and historically has always been behind Madrid as a club. In recent years we have invested in things, but we are talking about a Madrid that has dominated the game for 90 years, who has nine European Cups, more Leagues…”