Saturday is derby day (9:00 p.m. CET) and here’s a look at Barca’s first opponents of the Xavi HernÃ¡ndez era, none other than local rivals RCD Espanyol.
HISTORY OF THE CLUB
Hans Gamper sparked a football craze in the city when he founded FC Barcelona by 1899, and within a year a number of other teams had also started playing the game. Originally created by university students, the “Spanish Football Society” is the only one to have survived to the present day.
The âbig twoâ of the former Catalan league, and who share the oldest rivalry in Spanish football, were founding members of the league in 1929. The club have been relegated five times over the years, but have always managed to come back straight 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 won the King’s Cup four times (twice this century) and twice reached the final of the UEFA Cup / European League, losing each time on penalties.
FC Barcelona traditionally has the upper hand in the Derbi Barcelonas. Although Espanyol won the home game of the King’s Cup quarter-final in 2018 (but were ultimately beaten 2-1 overall), they haven’t won a Championship derby since Ivan de la PeÃ±athe famous double of Camp Nou in 2009.
In La Liga, Barca are currently on their longest unbeaten streak against local rivals, an incredible 22 derbies. Meanwhile, Barca have scored 55 goals and Espanyol just five.
Espanyol have only finished above Barca four times in La Liga, and the last time that happened was in 1942.
The last meeting between the teams took place in July 2020 at Camp Nou. Moments after the expulsion of a man from both teams, Luis Suarez scored the only goal in the 1-0 win for the Blaugranas.
After regaining promotion to the top flight on the first try, Espanyol marked their comeback with a reasonably happy start to the campaign. They may have only won four games, but they have lost only four as well.
These four victories, including a 2-1 loss to real Madrid, were at the RCDE stage. On the road, the best they have done are three draws at Osasuna, Betis and Elche. This leaves them on the same 17 points as FC Barcelona, ââbut after playing one more game.
International caps: Wu Lei (China, 77 years old), Yangel Herrera (Venezuela, 21 years old), Keidi Bare (Albania, 17 years old), RaÃºl de TomÃ¡s (Spain, 2), Javi Puado (Spain, 1), Ãscar Gil (Spain, 1 ), Diego LÃ³pez (Spain, 1), Aleix Vidal (Spain, 1)
Links with BarÃ§a:
Aleix vidal spent a year of his youth at La Masia and the following years touring Spain as a team before eventually settling in Almeria. After impressing at Sevilla, he finally returned to Barca in 2015, where he suffered 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 OlazÃ¡bal spent seven years with Barca B and was a regular part of the first-team squads as a third pick, making a very rare occasional appearance in less important games. He was then at Granada, Real Sociedad and Levante before joining Espanyol in 2020.
Midfielder Fran Merida spent seven years at La Masia before moving to Arsenal in 2007. He has since played for several clubs, notably in Portugal and even Brazil, but mostly made his mark at Osasuna, where he was before joining Espanyol in 2020.
Center back Sergi Gomez was at Barca 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 the season.
Top scorer 2021/22:
RaÃºl de TomÃ¡s (7, third in La Liga), Aleix Vidal 2, five others with one goal
As a player, Vicente Moreno was almost entirely associated with Andalusian club Xerez, for which he made almost 400 appearances and later became a coach. It was in Mallorca that he really made a name for himself, guiding the club towards two successive promotions, until the return to the first division. Mallorca were relegated after one season, after which Moreno joined Espanyol, who also fell the same year – and he brought them straight back into the top flight.