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Barca met with wash of Spanish flags in Madrid

Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid ultras waved hundreds of Spanish flags and shouted “Viva Espana” (long live Spain) ahead of their clash with Barcelona on Saturday in a match laced with political tension amid Catalonia’s drive for independence.

The game is Barca’s first trip to the Spanish capital since an independence referendum, deemed illegal by the Spanish government, was marred by violence on October 1.

Police seized ballot papers and clashed with voters leaving 92 injured, among nearly 900 who sought medical attention.

Barca’s last match on the day of the referendum was played behind closed doors as a protest by the club to the shocking scenes across Catalonia.

Only 250 tickets have been made available to away fans at Atletico’s new 68,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano.

A number of Barca players including outspoken defender Gerard Pique and captain Andres Iniesta wore a training top in the colours of the Seynera Catalan flag in the warm-up.

Pique has vehemently defended Catalonia’s right to self-determination, but never declared himself to be in favour of independence.

However, a week on from being jeered whilst playing for Spain, Pique was also met with chants of “Spain is your nation” from the Atletico ultras.

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