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Sunday is derby day (kick-off 9.00pm CET), and here’s a closer look at Barça’s 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. Espanyol have 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 of La Liga 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.
For most of their history, Espanyol played at the Estadi de Sarrià, just down the road from the Camp Nou. The site was sold in 1997 and the team spent a decade at the Olympic Stadium, Montjuïc before moving to their new home, the ultra-modern 40,500 capacity RCDE Stadium on the outskirts of metropolitan Barcelona.
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, and have not won at home since 2006/07.
In La Liga, Barça are currently on their longest ever unbeaten run against their local rivals, an amazing 23 derbies. In that time, Barça have scored an amazing 56 goals, and Espanyol just five.
Last five meetings
20/11/21 (LIGA) Barça 1 (Memphis) Espanyol 0
08/07/20 (LIGA) Barça 1 (L Suárez) Espanyol 0
04/01/20 (LIGA) Espanyol 2 Barça 2 (L Suárez, A Vidal)
30/03/19 (LIGA) Barça 2 (Messi 2) Espanyol 0
08/12/18 (LIGA) Espanyol 0 Barça 4 (Messi 2, Dembélé, L Suárez)
After regaining promotion to the top flight at the first attempt, Espanyol are looking fairly comfortable in the middle of the Liga table. They’re not challenging for European places, but aren’t dicing with relegation either.
It’s been their away form that’s let them down, with just win on the road all season (2-1 at Valencia on New Year’s Eve).
In contrast Atlético Madrid were the only team to win at the RCDE Stadium until January. But Espanyol’s home record has taken a knock in the last two games, with Elche and Real Betis both going home with three points, meaning Espanyol are winless in 2022.
Espanyol’s Copa del Rey run ended in the last 16 with a 2-1 loss to Mallorca.
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 (below) 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.
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 scorers 2021/22
Raúl de Tomás (12), Javi Puado (3), Aleix Vidal (2), Manu Morlanes (2)
Raúl de Tomás is very much the man to watch out for in the Espanyol attack. ‘RDT’ has scored 44% of the team’s goals this season and is second in the overall charts behind Karim Benzema. In fact, Espanyol have lost every single game they have played this season without De Tomás in the team.
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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