Spain could suffer from Barça-Real rivalry, warns Del Bosque

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Vicente del Bosque, the Spain coach, is concerned that the current run of Barcelona-Real Madrid matches could have a negative effect on the national team.

Tensions were heightened as the teams prepared for the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals in Madrid last night. It will be the third of four meetings in a short span between the rivals, with several Spain team-mates having squared up to each other during Real's 1-0 Copa del Rey extra-time final victory last week.

"I'm worried about the quarrels between my players during these clasicos, which I hope don't find their way into my dressing room," Del Bosque said. "Good relations inside the dressing room are the basis for our future success."

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola also engaged in a verbal sparring match on Tuesday when the Barcelona coach let fly an expletive-laden retort in response to his Portuguese counterpart's taunts from earlier in the day.

The Villarreal defender Carlos Marchena called on his Spain team-mates to remember the big picture amid the marathon of clasicos, which started with a 1-1 La Liga draw on April 16 and will end with Tuesday's Champions League return leg at the Nou Camp.

"You have to be intelligent and remember that the national team lies above any club ties," Marchena said. The Villarreal centre-half, whose side are in the semi-finals of the Europa League against Porto tonight, was part of the Spanish squad that won both the European Championship and last year's World Cup in South Africa.

Barcelona and Real players dominated the line up in South Africa. Marchena's team-mate Joan Capdevila was the only player from outside the La Liga giants to make the starting line-up in the final.