Interim Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink was a Real Madrid coach for less than a year during an ill-fated spell at the club, but he remains fascinated with El Clasico.
Hiddink took over at Santiago Bernabeu in July 1998 but was sacked in February 1999.
Despite his short tenure and unhealthy relationship with the board he served, the Dutchman said matches between Real and Barcelona transcend sport.
“It’s huge. Sometimes, as a manager you lose all the control because it has such an impact in the country,” he said.
“It is, of course, sports – Barcelona and Real Madrid. But there is a cultural and political impact on those games.
“I have had the experience several times and you cannot describe what the feelings are like in the country.”
But Hiddink believes Saturday’s edition at Camp Nou will have a different feel to it, with Barcelona set to pay tribute to former great Johan Cruyff, who died last week after battling cancer.
Cruyff was a former Barca player and coach, credited with creating the philosophy that has served the Catalan giants so well in the modern era.
A compatriot of Hiddink, the Chelsea manager said he expected a special Clasico in honour of Cruyff.
“Now it is a Clasico with a lot of mutual respect because of Johan Cruyff’s passing. That will have an impact around the the game. It will be a special Clasico,” he said.
“He’s in the top three or top four of players. In his way of playing, I had the luck to play against him a few times and I also had the luck to have our encounters during his time in Spain.
“He renewed the way of playing and also renewed the way of thinking about football for managers.
“On top of that he was a very relaxed and very accessible person. That made him, for me, very special.”
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