Barcelona coach Luis Enrique insists the best homage his side can pay to club legend Johan Cruyff is to beat Real Madrid in the Clasico on Saturday in a style the Dutch great would have appreciated.
The match at the Camp Nou is Barca’s first since former player and coach Cruyff died at the age of 68 last week after a short battle with lung cancer.
A display reading “Thank you Johan” will be held aloft by over 90,000 fans pre-match with the same message carried on the Barca players’ shirts.
“I am sure that what Cruyff would want more than any homage is that we win thanks to good football, putting on a spectacle and deserving it on the pitch,” Luis Enrique said on Friday.
Barca go into the game in pole position as they lead third-placed Madrid by 10 points in the title race in La Liga with just eight games remaining.
The visit of Zinedine Zidane’s men on his first experience of the Clasico as a coach gives Barca the chance to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 40 games.
Lionel Messi can also bring up another significant milestone as he is just one goal away from 500 in his career for club and country.
“It is a figure from another galaxy. Not even including goals in training would many players, including myself, get anywhere near that number,” he added.
Yet, despite their comfortable lead at the top of the table, Luis Enrique is sure motivation will not be an issue for his side in such a big game.
“More than what a goal means, the players are crazy to win the game.
“It doesn’t matter what the difference in points is, these are two of the best teams in the world.
“There is nothing that appeals to Barca fans more than beating Madrid and the same goes for the players.”
Barca’s stellar campaign has been thanks in large part to the 107 goals scored by the star front three of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
All three travelled across the Atlantic during a two-week international break since Barca were last in action to represent their countries in South American World Cup qualifiers.
Yet, the coach shrugged off suggestions that tiredness could affect their performance come Saturday.
“These type of games generate energy in players. It doesn’t worry me at all.”