New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona are steeped in history. The rivalry between the two clubs and their sets of fans have political and sociological layers to it in addition to it being a clash of arguably the two biggest football clubs in the world.
Former Real Madrid and Serbia striker Predrag Mijatovic says that players always tend to remember their first Clasico more than the rest.
“It stays with you forever. In time you play more, but that first one really leaves an impression,” Mijatovic told IANS.
“Your teammates tell you all about it but you have to experience it. My first Clasico we played at the Bernabeu and we won 2-0. Davor Suker scored the first, I got the second. Full stadium, everything that goes on before the game is incredible… you start to feel really important. You read about yourself in the press, then you read the history and hear all the legendary players who have played in the game. It’s like reading a story in a book, but you’re a part of it. And you feel proud saying to yourself: ‘I’m also a part of this,” he added.
Mijatovic played for Real between 1996 and 1999. In his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, he famously scored the winning goal in the 1998 Champions League final which handed Real their first title in the competition in 32 years and finished second in the race for Ballon d’Or behind Brazilian legend Ronaldo and ahead of French great and current Real coach Zinedine Zidane.
He says that for him the experience was amplified because he came from a small country. “I played at Valencia, where I was very happy. Then I moved to Real Madrid. My first Clasico came about and it’s incredible when you start to read everything that’s written about the game, seven days in advance!
“You realise that you’re going to play in a game in which great players have played. It makes you proud, it’s worth playing football just to experience that feeling. Then when the game begins, it’s unbelievable. You need total concentration and to be completely prepared. A small detail can decide the game. The pressure is unbelievable but it’s a good kind of pressure. There’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. You know that if you don’t play well in El Clasico you’ll have to answer to the fans and your teammates,” he said.
El Clasico will be broadcast live on Facebook Watch from 12.30 a.m. IST on December 19.