‘Guard of honour’ - what’s it all about?
Where did the 'guard of honour' idea come from, and is it Sydney 'mind games' or Melbourne bad sportsmanship?12 April 2018 | FT Editor
In our daily look at the latest football news on Thursday, we shared the news sourced from Fairfax Media that Sydney FC had requested Melbourne Victory to form a 'guard of honour' at their match on Friday night in light of Sydney's premiership status.
AAP reports that the idea has been dismissed by Melbourne Victory referring to it as "mind games" and "propaganda". Victory's coach, Kevin Muscat, even referred to the article itself as "disrespectful" journalism.
Melbourne Victory is not alone.
A similar row is currently happening in Spain's La Liga competition where it is possible that Barcelona will have earned the La Liga title by the time they meet arch-rivals Real Madrid in El Clasico at Camp Nou on 6 May.
Madrid's manager, Zinedine Zidane, points out that Barcelona did no such thing for them when they played one another after Madrid returning from winning the Club World Cup in December.
"We're not going to do the guard," Real Madrid head coach Zidane said on Saturday. "It's my decision and that's it. I don't understand the point of the guard, so we aren't going to do it. Anyway, we are a long way from the end of the season."
However, the real point in Barcelona's case, is the title is by no means a foregone conclusion although it is likely. They currently sit on 79 points, 9 ahead of Atletic Madrid in second, with seven games to go and 21 points up for grabs.
To be assured of the title, Barcelona need three wins and a draw. The fourth game is the one against Real Madrid so, at best, they may win the title that day; at worst, they will not so all the talk of a 'guard of honour' is just that, talk. By the way, Atletico would need to win every single game from this point merely to be on equal points but Barcelona's goal difference is far superior at +63 compared with +36.
But are guards of honour for a title-winner as common as the Fairfax Media article suggests?
Real Madrid and Barclona have previously done it for one another on three occasions: Barca for Real in 1988 at Nou Camp; the reverse at the Bernabeu in 1991; and most recently in 2008 (feature pic) where Barca did the honours for Real Madrid again at the Bernabeu.
In the Premier League, the most recent example was when Chelsea lined-up for Leicester City in their phenomenal year of achivement in 2016, but it is not uncommon in the Premier League. Other instances include Chelsea for Manchester United in 2007 and Arsenal to Manchester United in 2013. However, with one more win required to wrap-up the title, it's unclear whether an opposition team would do the same for Manchester City.
a-league, sydney fc, melbourne victory, barcelona, real madrid