Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry no longer an issue for Spain, insists Iniesta

The Blaugrana midfielder has claimed that Vicente Del Bosque's men are 100 per cent united in their pursuit of a third successive major international championship success
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Andres Iniesta insists that there is no danger of the intense rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid undermining Spain's hopes of winning Euro 2012.

It has been claimed that the likes of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos do not see eye to eye, having clashed several times in the Clasico. But Iniesta has explained that while the Barca-Madrid rivalry was once a problem, it has now been resolved.

Ben Hayward | Spain Expert

Had the European Championship been played a year ago, this may have been an issue. Barcelona and Real Madrid had just done battle four times in the space of 17 days and there was plenty of bad blood following the quartet of Clasico clashes.

However, all of the problems from a year ago, including the issue between Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, have been resolved.

The only controversy this time around is an interview given by Xavi last week in which he once again claimed that Madrid were sore losers and took a potshot at Jose Mourinho. That said, there is a real bond between the players in this Spain side and by the time they line up against Italy today, all of that will be forgotten.
"It's an issue that is behind us; it has passed," the Blaugrana midfielder is quoted as saying by Marca. "It does not make sense; we would be fools if we were thinking about the Madrid-Barcelona rivalry. We are here to have a great Euros."

Even better news for Spain is the fact that Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, claims that he is 100 per cent fit for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

"I feel good, confident; at an optimal time to play," he revealed. "It is true that in both the World Cup and Euro 2008 I had problems, but that is not the case now."

Spain kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against Italy, whom the Iberians defeated on penalties in Vienna four years ago in the quarter-finals.

Iniesta admits that the shoot-out success in Austria was a key moment in the country's transition from under-achievers to the No.1 side in the world.

"That game against Italy was a turning point for us," he acknowledged. "Our confidence grew a lot. Winning that tournament gave us a very important stability in every way and that was reflected in the World Cup.

"We now hope to continue in that manner, but, for the moment, we just have to think about the match against Italy."

Spain open the defence of their title with an eagerly-awaited clash with the Azzurri in Gdansk at 18:00CET on Sunday.

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