Barça’s city neighbours are the sixth oldest professional Club in Spain and although they’ve never matched their fellow Catalan’s immense success, they have won the Spanish Cup 4 times and were runners up in the UEFA Cup in 1988 and 2007
Founded in 1900, Espanyol took their name from the fact that all of their players were locals, unlike the some of the more cosmopolitan teams in the city , such as Barça. In 1923, the Club opened their famous Sarria stadium, where they were to stay until 1997, when the ground was sold and the team moved first as tenants to Montjuich and then, in 2009 to their own new stadium at El Prat-Cornella. The Stadium was opened with a game against Liverpool on August 3rd, but tragedy struck the Club a few days later when their captain Dani Jarque died of a heart attack during their pre-season tour of Italy. As a mark of respect, the club’s fans chant Jarque’s name on 21 minutes of every game, remembering the number 21 shirt he always wore.
Espanyol’s most successful period came in the first decade of this century, when they finished just a point off Champions League classification in 2005, won their fourth Spanish Cup in 2006 and were runners up in the UEFA Cup in 2007. Since 1970, Espanyol have spent just two seasons out of the top flight and consolidated themselves as the sixth largest Spanish club in terms of members(more than 35,000 season ticket holders).
After looking good for European classification earlier on in the season and occupying fourth place for a while, Espanyol’s form has suffered a bit of a dip of late, with just one win in their last nine games and three successive defeats coming into the derby, all of which has left them in 13th on 45 points and with only an outside chance of making the Europa League spots. Espanyol have won just three games on the road this season, at Rayo Racing and Sporting – their last away win in December.
ONE TO WATCH
Espanyol have a young squad, with many of their players coming up through the youth system at the Club, but their creative midfielder Joan Verdu is actually a product of LaMasia, having played alongside Víctor Valdés, Iniesta and Leo Messi in the B team, before signing for Deportivo in 2006. He stayed in Galicia for three years before returning home to Catalonia, signing for Espanyol where he soon established himself as an attacking reference point. Verdu has scored five goals this season and is the third most used player in Pochettino’s squad.