Pique: I like to provoke Real Madrid.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says he enjoys provoking bitter rivals Real Madrid to maintain the intense rivalry between the two Spanish giants.

The Spaniard, who recently said he "cannot bear to play for Spain anymore" and would quit international football after the 2018 World Cup, reckons the rivalry between Barca and Madrid keeps things interesting in La Liga.

"I admit that I like to provoke, I like there to be a tension purely in a sporting sense," he told TV3.

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"I think that without that, people would not love football. Without the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the games would not have that sensation of life or death, the feeling that everything is decided in one game.

"It is true that recently I have put a brake on it, I realise when I am too close to those moments of chaos when people do not appreciate what you do on the pitch.

"Sometimes it is not so much that I like to talk, but that I am asked about specific things.

"In the end, though, we understood each other in those Barca-Madrid games with [Jose] Mourinho and [Pep] Guardiola."

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Barcelona play Deportivo La Coruna at the Camp Nou on Saturday as they look to bounce back to winning ways in La Liga after the 4-2 defeat to Celta Vigo, while Real Madrid visit Real Betis on the same day.

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