BARCELONA: Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta insists the European champions will be extra motivated to honour legendary former player and coach Johan Cruyff when they host Real Madrid in Spain’s El Clasico on Saturday.
Over 90,000 fans will take part in a pre-match display reading “thank you Johan” in Barca’s first match since the Dutch master died at the age of 68 last week after a five-month battle with lung cancer.
“The best homage is what he gave us all, especially Barca fans, but to the whole world of football,” Iniesta said on Wednesday.
“For our part, in what is a special match, it is without doubt extra motivation for us to try and win the game.”
More than 60,000 mourners paid their respects to Cruyff at a memorial set up at Barca’s Camp Nou stadium between Saturday and Tuesday.
As well as winning one league title and a Copa del Rey as a player, Cruyff revolutionised the Catalan giants in an eight-year spell as coach which delivered four La Liga titles and the club’s first European Cup.
Moreover, his commitment to implementing an attacking style of play based on technical ability in Barca’s youth academy is credited with the emergence of players like five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Iniesta long after Cruyff had left the club.
“We are talking about a personal homage,” Iniesta added.
“There are still some teammates to return [from international duty], but there will be something personal.”