Barcelona defender Gerard Pique publicly acknowledged that he enjoyed provoking Real Madrid players and supporters as he believes the tension keeps their rivalry alive and kicking. Speaking on the show ‘Fora de Serie’ on TV3, Pique said, “I admit that I like to provoke, I like there to be a tension purely in a sporting sense. I think that without that, people would not love football.”
The Spanish defender has most recently made headlines, not for his performance on the pitch but for his antics on social media, especially his Twitter exchange with Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa and his digs and jibes at their biggest rivals.
He began his war of tweets with Arbeloa when Real Madrid was disqualified from last season’s Copa del Rey tournament after they fielded a player who was ineligible.
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) December 2, 2015
Even though Arbeloa did his best to humiliate the Catalans on Twitter after their one-goal defeat to Real Sociedad a few months later, Pique still got the better of him when he tweeted:
Piqué sobre Arbeloa" Un jugador que ha sido titular una vez de 32 no merece respuesta." #TiempodeJuego158— Tiempo de Juego (@tjcope) April 9, 2016
Roughly translated, his tweet meant, “A player who played 1 game in 32 doesn't deserve a response”. Clearly, Pique enjoys ruffling Madrid feathers but he claims he doesn’t just do it for himself. In his mind, maintaining an off-pitch rivalry is crucial to the atmosphere of the El Clasico.
“Without the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the games would not have that sensation of life or death, the feeling that everything is decided in one game.
“It is true that recently I have put a brake on it, I realize when I am too close to those moments of chaos when people do not appreciate what you do on the pitch.
“Sometimes it is not so much that I like to talk, but that I am asked about specific things.”
However, the recent incident where he seemed to have cut off the Spanish flag from his jersey during his country’s World Cup qualifier game against Albania seems to have made his mind up about retiring from international duty after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Many Spanish Real Madrid fans have criticized him for his pro-Catalonian stance that has him convinced he isn’t wanted in the Spanish team. He said:
"It's not a 'heat of the moment' decision, I've given a lot of thought to this. It's not because of what happened today, it's because I always give my best on the field and, although there are some people who have thanked me, some don't think it's OK for me to be here."
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