El Clasico brings good times and not-so-good times, but most importantly, it brings lot of emotions: former Barcelona player Patrick Kluivert – SportsMediaz

For Patrick Kluivert, El Clasico remains special. The former Barcelona footballer remembers several instances where the El Clasico could make or break a player’s career.

But on Sunday, as the two arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona meet again, Kluivert believes that even though ‘home team’ Real may have a slight advantage, Barcelona will make sure that it fights back after a harrowing Champions League outing against Inter Milan.

“El Clasico brings you good times and not-so-good times. But most importantly, it brings a lot of emotions,” Kluivert tells  Sportstar while sharing his thoughts on the evolution of El Clasico, the future of La Liga and more…

Q- Barcelona comes into the game after another harrowing night in the Champions League against Inter Milan, where it just managed to earn a 3-3 draw. So, will that performance have an impact on El Clasico?

A- Barcelona did a good job in the competition. In the Champions League, it struggled, and everybody saw that, and it’s a pity because a Champions League without Barcelona takes off a bit of spice from the tournament. But we are talking about the El Clasico, and both teams are coming out of a draw in the Champions League and it takes guts to be there. Possibly, Real Madrid has a slight advantage because it is playing at home, but Barcelona will bring it on the table. They know that both are in first place with a seven-goal difference, but it will be a very exciting game. When it comes to El Clasico, I am excited to see how it goes on…

Are there any memories from the El Clasico that you always cherish?

I have a lot of very good memories, but also a sad memory. It was my first Clasico at Camp Nou (October 13, 1999), and I received a red card. It’s not such a nice memory, and as I said, those are emotional moments. Then, I lost a bit of my cool, but it happens in big games.

Over the years, La Liga has evolved, but the excitement level remains the same every time Real, and Barcelona take on each other. How do you see this?

The excitement will always be there. It was there before I joined Barcelona and it continues to be the same. The El Clasico itself is the best-watched game in the world, so this won’t go away. This will go on forever because it’s the game of the centuries, involving the two teams. So, it is always exciting for the fans, and for the former players and the teams, it’s an emotional game.

When Messi and Cristiano were playing, they needed each other to bring that spice to the Clasico, but even now, several other players in the competition attract the fans, says Kluivert.

When Messi and Cristiano were playing, they needed each other to bring that spice to the Clasico, but even now, several other players in the competition attract the fans, says Kluivert.
| Photo Credit: La Liga

Superstars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo added to the star power of La Liga. But do you think that after their exit, there has been a player drain from the league?

When Messi and Cristiano were playing, they needed each other to bring that spice to the Clasico, but even now, several other players in the competition attract the fans. In the future, there will be other stars coming to La Liga, and I am sure about it. La Liga is the best or the second-best watched league in the world, there will always be an attraction for the big players to come to Spain.

The visibility for people is even getting bigger. If you look at the last five years, three times a Spanish club won the Champions League. That’s the most attractive thing, if a Spanish team is winning the Champions League, people will automatically start watching Spanish competitions. We have more than 650 million viewers across the globe and it’s a huge deal.

But after the exit of Messi and Ronaldo, there seems to be a lack of awareness about La Liga clubs other than Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid…

You have a lot of other clubs also like Athletic Bilbao, so every other club in Spain plays good football. Of course, Barcelona and Madrid have a history and are the top two teams, but you have got other teams as well who have improved. They have been able to get bigger players in the team, and that’s why La Liga continues to be very popular among the fans.

You cannot always have a Messi or a Ronaldo in Spain. They were around for about 10 years, and now they have gone to other competitions. But like I said, other players are coming in and making the competition more attractive.

Do you think that over the years, the Johan Cryuff, Pep Guardiola, Xavi and the Barca philosophy has gone missing from La Liga?

The other clubs know the style of Barcelona, and sometimes we need to adjust a little bit with the other side. The philosophies will always stay with the club, and if you make some changes, that does not mean that the philosophy will change. We will always remember the philosophies and the style of play for Barcelona, the only thing is that we need a good scouting team and scout the right players to the system.

The financial cap in La Liga is often spoken about. What are your thoughts on the issue, and should other European leagues follow it as strictly?

It is very important to keep the financial fair play alive. If the financial fair play is not there, then they can keep on signing and signing. The competition needs to be equal, it needs to be fair, and if you can make a deal and do what you can do, you have to do it.

With the Qatar World Cup happening in winter this time, how much of a challenge is it for the leagues to maintain the quality since players will have less time together?

They have less time, yes. But now that FIFA has decided to have the World Cup in Qatar and we will have to go with the flow, whether it’s the middle of the competition or the end, it does not matter. You have to play, and the best country will win. It’s winter, but Qatar has a good climate then.

For leagues, it’s of course a challenge. The English players are used to playing in winter because they like it. But yes, the quality of competitions across the league will be affected drastically.

The El Clasico will be telecast on Sports18 – 1 SD & HD and MTV HD and SD in English, and Sports18 Khel in Hindi. JioCinema will live-stream the match in multiple language feeds, while it will be available on Voot in English from 7:45 pm.

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