Sunday 22 March 2015 11:44, UK
Thierry Henry says El Clasico rivals the Champions League and World Cup finals as the “biggest game on earth”.
The Arsenal legend and Sky Sports pundit spent three years at Barcelona between 2007 and 2010, when he secured a Champions League winners' medal, two league titles and Copa del Rey success.
Henry has fond memories of Barcelona and Real Madrid tussles, with his brace in a 6-2 romp in the Bernabeu a particular highlight.
And ahead of this Sunday’s titanic tussle, Henry explained just how high profile a contest El Clasico really is.
“It is the biggest game on earth at club level,” Henry told Sky Sports.
"It is crazy to think how many people stop to watch this game. You always say to your friend: 'where are you watching El Clasico?'
“You can bring the Glasgow derby into it, you can bring Arsenal v Tottenham into it, Boca v River Plate. Whoever you support, this is the only game you always ask ‘where are you watching El Clasico?’
"When you play in Spain, two games before El Clasico, all the questions are about it. Even straight after a game anywhere else.
"I can only compare it to the World Cup final or European Cup final, because when they are on, there is no other game on around the world, and that is what this feels like."
Henry played a role in one of the most successful eras at Barcelona under Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola and the former France international appreciates the gravitas wearing the jersey holds.
“When you come out at the Nou Camp you look at the crowd and hope you can make sure they go home happy,” Henry added.
“There is nothing quite like the Nou Camp when it wants to be loud, and nothing like it when they want to have a go at you.
“It is a special place. It is more than a club that is for sure. I grew to understand that it is more than a club. It is a religion.
“You have to entertain the fans. They have seen great players before, they have seen great teams before. You cannot fool them.
“They demand you to play. If you score seven, they want eight the next game.”
Barcelona have put their early-season woes behind them and sit one point clear of their rivals at the top of La Liga, and Henry cannot pick a winner in this season's title race.
“It depends on how far both teams go in the Champions League,” Henry added.
“You would think at this stage of the season the winner would go on to be league champions.
“But both teams have struggled against the so-called lesser sides, and we thought that Madrid were far ahead, and Barcelona looked out of it.
“But now if Barcelona win this El Clasico, then they are right back in it.”
Watch El Clasico live on Sky Sports 5 from 7.30pm this Sunday and visit the On Demand section of your set-top box for more of our interview with Thierry Henry.