Pinto and Vázquez during 2004/05 season / PHOTO: OSCAR VÁZQUEZ-LA VOZ DE GALICIA

It promises to be special evening on Saturday in the Camp Nou. On the one hand, Barça and Deportivo go head to head with one team aiming for the league championship while the other is fighting to avoid relegation. And it will also be a chance to see Pinto defending the Barça goal in the league for the first time this season. The red card handed to Valdés in the Bernabéu means that Pinto will make his first league appearance of the season and at the same time will come up against one of this former managers, Fernando Vázquez, the boss of Deportivo since 11th February.

From glory to nightmare in Vigo

José Manuel Pinto and Fernando Vázquez worked together at Celta for three seasons, from 2004 to 2007. During those three years, Celta experienced the best and the worst that football can offer with promotion to the first division (2005), qualification for the UEFA Cup (2006) followed by relegation to the second division (2007). Speaking to fcbarcelona.cat, the Barça keeper told us he has “very good memories of that time. There was a great bunch of people at Celta then and I found that I had the confidence of the manager. He was the first coach at Celta to put his faith in me”.

The stats confirm this. In his first six years at the Club (1998-04), Pinto made just 54 league appearances but from then on he became one of Vázquez’s first team regulars.

The Zamora Trophy, “an award for the work of the whole team”

The season in which Celta finished sixth and qualified for Europe was the same season that Pinto won the Zamora Trophy (for the goalkeeper who concedes the fewest goals), with just 28 goals in 36 matches. Pinto now insists that: “The team was really united and our strength was based on that. We were a compact squad and that showed itself in a great defence. As a result of that we got the Zamora, which was down to the work of the whole team”.

Fernando Vázquez was sacked after 29 games of the 2006/07 season and the team was taken over by former Barça favourite Hristo Stoitxkov. But the Bulgarian wasn’t able to save the club from relegation.

Several months later, Pinto made the move to the Camp Nou and now, six years later, the two men will lock horns again in the match between Barça and Deportivo. According to the goalkeeper, “Because of their situation, I think they will come here to attack and take risks. They’ll be adventurous”. It’ll be an exciting reunion!

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