Jordi Alba suggested bitter rivals Real Madrid should perform a guard of honour for the recently-crowned Spanish champions, though the full-back acknowledged the decision would not be made by the players. Barcelona clinched their 25th LaLiga title and seventh in 10 seasons courtesy of a 2-4 win at Deportivo de la Coruña last night.
Leo Messi scored a hat-trick as Barça, who remain unbeaten in the league this season, sealed a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double. Before the game got underway at Riazor, the Catalans were given a guard of honour by the hosts for last weekend's Cup triumph over Sevilla.
Madrid have to respect tradition, says Jordi Alba
Attention post-match quickly turned to Sunday's Clásico showdown at Camp Nou, after head coach Zinedine Zidane previously said Los Blancos would not give Barça a guard of honour as the Catalan giants opted not to do the same following December's Club World Cup win.
"It's not a decision we take, everyone has respect for those who want to," Jordi Alba told reporters. "The Club World Cup was a competition we didn't play in. At the [Santiago] Bernabeu, in the league, we have previously performed a guard of honour. If they don't want to give us a guard of honour it will be because it comes from upstairs."
Valverde deserves praise for winning the double
The left-back also leapt to the defence of Barça boss Ernesto Valverde, who has come in for criticism following the club's shock Champions League quarter-final loss to Roma. "It's an embarrassment, the players have to show our faces, we all make mistakes," Alba said. "Valverde deserves it more than anyone, he's the sixth coach to have won a double. He's managed the dressing room perfectly."
He added: "[The double] has only been done eight times in Barcelona's history and we have to be very happy. Everyone would have taken it, although we know that in the Champions League we were knocked out badly. The double has been won eight times and the club was founded ages ago."