The lowdown on RCD Espanyol
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Saturday is derby day (9.00pm CET) and here’s a closer look at Barça’s first opponents of the Xavi Hernández era, none other than local rivals RCD Espanyol.
Hans Gamper sparked a football craze in the city when he founded FC Barcelona in 1899, and within a year a number of other teams had started playing the game too. Originally set up by university students, the ‘Spanish Football Society’ is the only one that has survived to the present day.
The ‘big two’ of the old Catalan Championship, and who share the oldest rivalry in Spanish football, were founder members of La Liga in 1929. The club has been relegated five times over the years, but they have always managed to come straight back up the following year, most recently in the 2020/21 season.
Espanyol is the club that has appeared in the most editions without ever winning the title. But they have won the Copa de Rey four times (twice this century) and twice reached the final of the UEFA Cup/Europe League, on both occasions losing on penalties.
HEAD TO HEAD
FC Barcelona traditionally have the upper hand in the derbi barcelonés. Although Espanyol did win the home leg of the Copa del Rey quarter final in 2018 (but were ultimately beaten 2-1 on aggregate), they have not won a league derby since Iván de la Peña’s famous brace at Camp Nou in 2009.
In La Liga, Barça are currently on their longest ever unbeaten run against their local rivals, an amazing 22 derbies. In that time Barça have scored an amazing 55 goals, and Espanyol just five.
Espanyol have only ever finished above Barça four times in La Liga, and the last time it happened was way back in 1942.
The last meeting between the teams was in July 2020 at Camp Nou. Moments after both teams had had a man sent off, Luis Suárez scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for the blaugrana.
After regaining promotion to the top flight at the first attempt, Espanyol have marked their return with a reasonably happy start to the campaign. They may have only won four games, but they have only lost four as well.
All four of those wins, including a 2-1 defeat of Real Madrid, have been at the RCDE Stadium. On the road, the best they have managed are three draws at Osasuna, Betis and Elche. It leaves them on the same 17 points as FC Barcelona, but having played one game more.
International caps: Wu Lei (China, 77), Yangel Herrera (Venezuela, 21), Keidi Bare (Albania, 17), Raúl de Tomás (Spain, 2), Javi Puado (Spain, 1), Óscar Gil (Spain, 1), Diego López (Spain, 1), Aleix Vidal (Spain, 1)
Aleix Vidal spent one year of his youth at La Masia and spent the following years team-hopping around Spain before finally settling at Almeria. After impressing at Sevilla he finally made it back to Barça in 2015, where he’d suffer a serious ankle injury and eventually returned to Sevilla. He moved to Espanyol this summer, a club where he had already spent a few years in his youth.
Gol d'Aleix Vidal, FC Barcelona - Las Palmas (Lliga)
Goalkeeper Oier Olazábal spent seven years with Barça B and was a regular part of first team squads as third-choice stopper, making the occasional very rare appearance in less important games. He was then at Granada, Real Sociedad and Levante before joining Espanyol in 2020.
Midfielder Fran Mérida was at La Masia for seven years before going to Arsenal in 2007. He’s been at several clubs since then, including spells in Portugal and even Brazil, but mainly made his mark at Osasuna, where he was before joining Espanyol in 2020.
Centre back Sergi Gómez was at Barça for eight years in his youth, playing 96 games for the B team. He was then at Celta and Sevilla before returning to Espanyol in a native Catalonia at the start of this season.
Top scorer 2021/22:
Raúl de Tomás (7, third in La Liga), Aleix Vidal 2, five others with one goal
As a player, Vicente Moreno was almost entirely associated to Andalusian club Xerez, for whom he made almost 400 appearances and later became coach. It was at Mallorca where he truly made his name, guiding the club to two successive promotions, all the way back into the first division. Mallorca were relegated after one season, whereupon Moreno joined Espanyol, who also dropped that same year – and he’s taken them straight back up onto the top flight.
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