Leo Messi vs Zaragoza - Season 2010/11 / PHOTO: ARCHIVE - FCB
Real Zaragoza, a team 16 years shy of reaching their 100-year anniversary, was founded in 1932, just years before the Spanish Civil War. The team from the capital of Aragon enjoyed its best years three decades later, when the team known as Los Magníficos claimed two Copas del Rey, two second-place finishes in La Liga and five consecutive top-five place finishes from 1960 through 1969, in addition to winning the Fairs Cup in the 1963/64 season against Greece’s Iraklis.
Fast forward another three decades, which saw Real Zaragoza yoyo between Spain’s second division and Cup glory, to the 1995/96 season when Los Maños achieved their greatest feat in Club history. After disposing of Feyenoord and Chelsea, the team led by Víctor Fernández clinched the Cup Winners Cup title in overtime against Arsenal. Nayim, a player that spent time at FC Barcelona's La Masia, scored the game-winning goal with a jaw-dropping strike from midfield that ended up in David Seaman’s goal.
THE BARÇA CONNECTION
Only 310 kilometers separates La Romareda from the Camp Nou, so it’s no surprise that the Aragonese and Catalan teams share a deep and long history of swapping players. The most notable of which, at least in the 20th century, was Juan Sarmiento, who was part of Real Zaragoza’s Los Magníficos team. He joined FC Barcelona in 1964 and stayed until 1967. David Villa is yet another example. Villa scored 32 goals for Real Real Zaragoza in his 73 appearances for the Aragón side before relocating to Valencia, and then to FC Barcelona.
In addition, Real Zaragoza currently boast four players that were formed in La Masia: Abraham Minero, Paco Montañés, Edu Oriol, and Víctor Rodríguez.
2012/13 LA LIGA FORM
Real Zaragoza lie 11th in the table on 15 points from five victories and six defeats. Three of team’s five victories were won in their last four matches: 1-2 away to Granada, 2-1 against Sevilla, and 5-3 over Deportivo. Of their last four matches only Real Madrid managed to defeat Los Maños (4-0 at the Bernabéu). However, it should be noted that Real Zaragoza proved to be a plucky and difficult side for Los Blancos two weeks ago in the Spanish capital.
Manuel Jiménez took the reins of Real Zaragoza from Javier Aguirre on December 11, 2011. He shepherded the team away from the danger zone last season, avoiding relegation by only two points. Given his recent string of results, Jiménez seems to have found the way to make his team click taking his men from the 17th position in the table to the 11th in one month. Barça are warned, Víctor Rodriguez, one of Jiménez’ pupils, declared “we are never going to give up on a match” when asked about this Saturday’s showdown at the Camp Nou.
ONE TO WATCH
Hélder Postiga is Real Zaragoza’s leading scorer with five goals this season. The Portuguese joined Los Maños in 2011 and has scored 15 times in 45 appearances for the team. Three of Postiga's five goals this season have been from headers - two of them coming last week in Zaragoza’s come-from-behind win over Deportivo.