The reasons why Atlético might not perform the guard of honour for Real Madrid
Next Sunday, 8 May, the Wanda Metropolitano will host the Madrid derby. Several Atlético players are not keen on applauding the newly-crowned LaLiga champions.
Atlético’s next game is against Real Madrid (Sunday 8 May, 21:00 hours CEST). Yesterday, Madrid were crowned champions of LaLiga and now the debate in the capital has turned to whether Atleti should perform the guard of honour for their neighbours before the derby at the Wanda Metropolitano. A decision still hasn’t been made, but a large part of the squad are less than keen on the idea, on a personal level and for the fans. Jan Oblak gave his thoughts following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat in Bilbao: “As the captain, I am among those who don’t like the idea of performing a guard of honour”. Nothing has been decided and the club will discuss it with the players this week.
It will be an open debate in which the players will be at liberty to express how they feel about it. Some of the older members of the squad, including Oblak, will remember that when they conquered the league in 2014, Madrid didn’t perform the guard of honour for them in the next game. Madrid reasoned that they didn’t because it was the Champions League final in Lisboa and organisers UEFA do not usually change their planning for such events. At the start of the current LaLiga season, Elche performed the guard of honour for Atlético in Week 2, but Celta didn’t on the opening day.
The guard of honour, a gesture which has been devalued
So on the one hand, there are the recent example when sometimes the pasillo hasn’t been performed, and on the other, the feelings of the players and fans. Some Atleti players and a large section of supporters feel that the whole sentiment of the guard of hour and what it should represent has changed - and not for the better. While there is no concrete reason why that has happened, in recent years, it has been seen as a weapon to ridicule rather than acknowledge and applaud in recognition of the champions which is why a lot of players don’t want to have anything to do with it. They remember moments when the other team have refused point blank to perform the guard of honour and even stated so publicly beforehand. Among those cases were Real Madrid who declined when Barcelona pipped them to the title in 2018. Zidane was asked about it during a press conference, “We’re not going to perform the guard of honour,” he said. “That’s that. We’ll be going straight into tomorrow’s game, there’ll be no guard of honour - all we are thinking of is getting three points tomorrow. Because, it’s a league game and we want to reduce distance in the table. My response couldn’t be clearer, it’s my decision and that’s all there is to it - I don’t have to talk any more about it”.
The issue has been a topic of discussion among Atlético fans ever since it became obvious that Real Madrid could mathematically be crowned champions in the game before the derby. Many fans have already said they are totally against it - some season ticket holders have already arranged to enter the stadium once the game has kicked off to avoid having to watch their team applaud the champions. In the words of another of the captains, Giménez: “We congratulate Madrid, but we respect our fans”. If the game was being played at the Bernabéu, maybe it would be different...