Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta has spoken of his respect for Real Madrid counterpart Sergio Ramos ahead of Saturday’s Clasico.
Iniesta appeared before the Press on Wednesday and after discussing the significance of the game coming so soon after Johan Cruyff’s death, was asked about Los Blancos, the skipper in particular.
“I’ve known him for many years. For me he’s one of the best central defenders in the world, but that’s nothing new,” AS quotes Iniesta saying of his Spain teammate.
“He’ll be a complicated, tough opponent. He brings a lot to his team. He’s the captain of Madrid and a captain of the national team. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Iniesta was asked to compare Clasicos today to those of a few years ago, with AS suggesting the implication was to explain how the fixture differs no Jose Mourinho isn’t involved.
“I prefer the Clasico now, always, except those from those three years,” Iniesta replied, referencing Mourinho’s time at Santiago Bernabeu.
“These are about football, those were about tension. That noise from outside didn’t benefit anybody.”
Barca took the game at the Bernabeu 4-0 but Iniesta isn’t expecting another rout, nor is he relying on Barca’s 10-point lead.
“It will be different. We know each other very well and we all want to develop the game so the fans can enjoy it,” he went on.
“We don’t assess [the game] as if it will be like it was in the first round or on the points lead we have.
“We expect these games to be different no matter the form are opponents arrive in. We all like to win. We can take another step forward. We want to increase the gap on the team in second.”
Having complimented opposition captain Ramos, Iniesta explained what it means to wear the armband in such a game, but insisted he still defers to Luis Enrique.
“The Coach is the boss and the decision-maker. I’m really enjoying the team level and the individual level,” he added.
“I’d like to play every game but I know that’s complicated. The important thing is to be at your best when you play.
“Being the captain is unlike anything else. You have no one above you, and it’s a very nice responsibility.
“I’ve experienced it naturally, but a captain without his teammates is nobody. You want to be natural and the best teachers are Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Victor Valdes.”