Madrid, Dec 14 (IANS): Spanish national football coach Vicente del Bosque said that he found it hard to imagine the Primera Liga football without the presence of Barcelona or the Spanish national team without Catalan players.
Del Bosque was speaking on Spanish national radio the day after the Catalan nationalist parties announced Nov 9, 2014 as the date for a proposed referendum over the Catalan region in the north east of Spain, reports Xinhua.
Although Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy "guaranteed" the vote would not be allowed to take place, the theoretical independence of Catalonia would raise many issues in the sporting world, not least, whether or not Barcelona would continue to play in the Spanish football league, or whether a Catalan league (which would in theory be less competitive) be set up.
Also the Spanish national squad has many Catalan players who would probably decide to play for their new country rather than the reigning World Champions and a Spain squad without players such as Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique, Victor Valdes, Jordi Alba, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, would clearly be significantly weakened, making Del Bosque's job a good deal harder.
"It is very hard to imagine a league without Barca, or a national team without Catalan players in it," admitted Del Bosque, who nevertheless stressed the good relations in the Spain squad.
"The feeling in the squad is of total cordiality and nobody has ever shown a feeling different from that of defending the colors of the national team," he added.
The Spain coach also looked ahead to the 2014 World Cup finals, admitting that even though Spain were defending champions, "the normal thing is for us not to win it and that is a good thing", he said.
"We need that insecurity against our rivals, who are all good (Spain will face Holland, Chile and Australia in the group stage). In the past nobody expected us to get past the quarter finals and now everyone expects us to win. We need to measure our optimism and that is not easy," he said.