BARCA SEEK ‘CLASICO’ WIN AS FITTING TRIBUTE TO CRUYFF

Football Soccer - England v Netherlands - International Friendly - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 29/3/16
General view as a minutes applause is held in the 14th minute of the match and a tribute is displayed on the big screen in honour of Johan Cruyff
Reuters / Stefan Wermuth
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Memories and images of Johann Cruyff will provide an emotional backdrop to Saturday’s Nou Camp ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid when Barcelona pay tribute to the man who transformed the club from also-rans into one of the game’s superpowers.

In their first match since their much-loved former player and coach Cruyff died from cancer last week, fans will hold up a mosaic reading ‘Gracies Johan’ (thanks Johan, in Catalan) and the home side’s players will bear the same message on their shirts.

Midfielder Andres Iniesta believes a win over Madrid is the best way to pay tribute to the Dutchman who as a player helped end a 14-year title drought in 1974 and as a coach led them to a hat-trick of domestic championships and their first European Cup success in 1992 and put in place the template for much of their subsequent success.

Barca sit nine points clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga with eight matches left this season and 10 ahead of third-placed Real, giving them the biggest advantage over their rivals before a ‘Clasico’ for 10 years.

However, Iniesta said the vast points gap between the two rivals does not affect how his side are viewing the game.

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Abideen Owolabi

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