The Lowdown on RCD Espanyol
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Saturday is derby day (kick-off 2.00pm 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.
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 24 derbies. In that time, Barça have scored 58 goals, and Espanyol just seven.
Last five meetings
13/02/22 (LIGA) Espanyol 2 Barça 2 (Pedri. Luuk de Jong)
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
Espanyol have been having a highly disappointing Liga season so far. In their 14 pre-World Cup games, they only managed two wins, one in Bilbao and the other at home to Valladolid. This equals their worst ever start to a league campaign.
They have only won one game away from home, but have only lost twice. Their four other road trips all resulted in draws. They are currently in 16th place, just one point above the relegation zone.
International caps: Martin Braithwaite (Denmark, 64), Cesar Montes (Mexico, 33), Keidi Bare (Albania, 22), Javi Puado (Spain, 1), Alvaro Fernandez (Spain, 1), Óscar Gil (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 in 2021, a club where he had already spent a few years in his youth.
Left back Brian Oliván was a youth player at Barça, best known before joining Espanyol this summer for his services to Cadiz and Mallorca.
Danish international striker Martin Braithwaite (below) was a mid-season signing to Barça from Leganés in 2020. He played 44 games as a blaugrana before moving across the city to wear blue and white in 2022.
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 2022/23
Joselu (7), Braithwaite (3)
Diego Martinez was just 20 when he retired from football and went into coaching instead. After working with the Sevilla youth system, he left to take up a job as Granada manager, guiding the team back into La Liga and into the Europa league for the first time. He was appointed coach as Espanyol in May of this year.
But look out, Martinez won two of the four games in which he faced Barça as Granada manager.
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