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'Catalonia can compete against world's best'

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'Catalonia can compete against world's best'
Would Catalans want their international side to be a diluted version of FC Barcelona? Photo: Josep Lago/AFP
14:20 CET+01:00
After an easy 4-1 win over Cape Verde on Monday, Barcelona's Gerard Piqué's comments on the potential of an independent Catalan football team have been offset by the lack of attention given to the game.

"This afternoon, there'll be world-class players on the pitch," the 26-year-old defender said at a press conference ahead of the friendly against the diminutive African nation.

The starting line-up was not as star-studded as Barça FC fans might have wanted, but big names like Bartra, Piqué, Busquets, Fabregas and Jordi Alba did put their boots on for the 'cause'.

Cape Verde’s early lead didn't last long as Catalonia struck back with four goals, two by Espanyol’s Sergio García and another couple by Ajax forward Bojan.

The friendly could have come to represent another symbol of Catalan unity as regional president Artur Mas continues his fight for a referendum on independence from Spain.

But the Catalan president didn't attend, and the 56,000-seat Lluys Companys Olympic stadium was only a third full.

Spain’s ABC newspaper called the friendly a "failure", more from a political point of view than in the sporting sense.

Catalan 'Senyera' flags and independence banners were displayed at all times but the event failed to carry the strength of unity displayed during last September’s 400km (248 mile) human chain or at other political rallies.

As for Piqué's comments, there is no doubt some truth in his views. Nine of the 24 players who made up Spain’s national side in their last two friendlies in Africa were Barça players, and six of them are Catalan born.

There’s also the famous tiki-taka style of play, developed at Barça and essential to Spain's recent glory in World and European Cup tournaments.

Whether these facts would guarantee Catalonia’s success as an independent national side remains questionable though.

Many of the other Catalan players who took part in Monday’s friendly do not play in top-flight football.

They are undeniably overshadowed by the Barça giants, as would be the Catalan national side if Catalonia were to gain independence.

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