Tuesday, November 30

Beat the rivals for the league gold – now Espanyol wants to ruin the Xavi party

FC Barcelona – RCD Espanyol you can watch on TV 2 Play and on TV 2 Sport Premium 2 from 20:30 on Saturday.

Xavi Hernándes was presented as Barcelona coach last week, and although the Spaniard has got off to a good start on the training field, the first big challenge awaits on Saturday, when city rival Espanyol visit Camp Nou.

Rivals based on political disagreements abound in Spain, and this fight is no exception. The derby is also the most played in the history of Spanish football.

The “royals” against the Catalans

Barcelona and Espanyol are the two teams that represent Catalonia in this year’s edition of La Liga, and both teams are from the city of Barcelona. This in itself is a good recipe for a hard and important match, but the history of the clubs about connection and identity has helped to make the clubs bitter rivals.

Petter Veland is a football commentator at vsport, and is one of Norway’s foremost experts on La Liga. Among other things, he has a podcast called “LaLigaLoca” together with Magnar Kvalvik and Jonas Adnan Giæver where they cover everything that happens in Spanish football after each La Liga round. He talks about the starting point for the rivalry:

LA LEAGUE EXPERT: Petter Veland is one of the foremost experts on Spanish football in Norway. Photo: Viasat

– The first years were in local and regional tournaments, before they both co-founded LaLiga in 1928. A few years later began a very turbulent period with the formation of the Second Spanish Republic and then the civil war in Spain, and during this period was the football club often used, and could be used, as propaganda and supporters, says Veland to TV 2.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the two teams have been at war over who best represents Barcelona.

When FC Barcelona was formed in 1899 by Swiss Hans Gamper, together with the English brothers Frederick Arthur and Ernest Witter, they followed a number of Spanish teams’ history of being created with strong influence from Central Europe and the British Isles.

For example, they allegedly took the now so familiar red and blue colors from the rugby club Merchant Taylors from the outskirts of Liverpool – the school where the Witty brothers had studied. Hans Gamper must have agreed with this as he cheered on the Swiss club FC Basel, which also wears red and blue.

TRIBUNE BREAK: The matches between the teams are at least as hard off the field as on.  Here, Espanyol supporters must flee the flames thrown by Barcelona supporters.  Photo: ALBERT GEA / REUTERS

TRIBUNE BREAK: The matches between the teams are at least as hard off the field as on. Here, Espanyol supporters must flee the flames thrown by Barcelona supporters. Photo: ALBERT GEA / REUTERS

RCD Espanyol, for its part, became the first team in Spain to be founded exclusively by Spanish football fans the following year, and initially used only Spanish-born players. Already here began the controversy over identity and belonging.

Throughout the 122-year-long period, there has been rivalry of varying degrees, created and driven by both politics, economics and the purely sporting, Veland explains.

In 1912, Espanyol received “protection” from King Alfonso XIII, which meant that they were allowed to use “Real” in the name, as well as use the crown in their logo. This, Barcelona thought, was a clear sign of the club’s conspiracy with the Republic of Spain.

– It is also a bit in the name; Espanyol is the Catalan spelling of Español (which is “Spanish”). The club’s full names are Real Club Deportivo Espanyol, which means that the club is considered royal (“Real”), says Veland.

CATALONIA: Barcelona fans wave with pro-Catalan effects during the match against Espanyol in 2019. Photo: LLUIS GENE

CATALONIA: Barcelona fans wave with pro-Catalan effects during the match against Espanyol in 2019. Photo: LLUIS GENE

Closed down the stadium for six months

When Miguel Primo de Rivera dictated Spain from 1923-1930, FC Barcelona really became the embodiment of what they thought was the oppressed state of Catalonia.

In 1925, Barcelona’s supporters had annoyed the dictator after bowing during the Spanish national anthem, and he responded by shutting down Barcelona’s home ground, “Les Corts”, for six months after the scenes. Barcelona president Hans Gamper also had to leave the club, as a reprimand for the pipe concerts.

CLOSED STADIUM: Spanish dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera closed down Barcelona's stadium as supporters bowed to the Spanish national anthem.  Photo: Ap / NTB

CLOSED STADIUM: Spanish dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera closed down Barcelona’s stadium as supporters bowed to the Spanish national anthem. Photo: Ap / NTB

On the other hand, Espanyol was historically more positive towards the central government in Spain, and to a greater extent distanced himself from the conflict between Catalonia and Spain.

Under the Franco regime, which lasted from 1939 until Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, Barcelona was again the symbol of Catalonia’s opposition to the central government, while some of their supporters have gone so far as to say that Espanyol on the other hand were Franco’s supporters.

Throughout the period, FC Barcelona was closely linked to Catalonia and their opposition (as they are today in terms of Catalan independence from Spain), while Espanyol, for its part, was far more centralized, Veland explains.

Most important for Espanyol

In recent years, the match has lost much of its politically motivated rivalry, but the underlying dispute over Catalonia and the opposition to Spain means that it is still a bitter match that both teams would like to win.

Espanyol fans in particular value the derby matches against Barcelona particularly highly, and for many of them it is the most important event of a season. Veland believes that Barcelona fans on the other hand are no longer as excited about the match:

Tough showdown: Barcelona's Ansu Fati received the red card the last time the clubs met.  Photo: ALBERT GEA

Tough showdown: Barcelona’s Ansu Fati received the red card the last time the clubs met. Photo: ALBERT GEA

– There is a very clear and distinct big brother vs little brother attitude involved here. One can almost imagine Espanyol shouting “Please see me, acknowledge that I exist” to Barcelona who stand with their backs to and look towards the capital and Europe instead, he says.

But Veland says that even though Barcelona expresses that they believe the match does not play such a big role, key Barcelona players do not allow themselves to be asked twice if they have the opportunity to make a move in the direction of Espanyol:

– When Espanyol moved from Montjuïc to RCDE Stadium, they actually moved from the city of Barcelona to the province of Barcelona, ​​the time Cornellà de Llobregat is outside the city limits. At the time, Barcelona president Joan Laporta was not late in pointing out that the matches between Barcelona and Espanyol were no longer a city city, but a metropolitan derby.

Barcelona’s stopper giant has also teased Espanyol supporters several times:

– Gerard Piqué has also called them “Espanyol de Cornellà” on several occasions, as an attempt to point out that the city of Barcelona belongs to FC Barcelona, ​​and only them – despite the fact that there are only six kilometers between the two stadiums, says Veland .

Believes Barcelona will win – but Espanyol has shocked before

Even how much it means for Espanyol to beat the arch-rival speaks the numbers in Barcelona’s favor. Throughout history, the teams have met a total of 300 matches. Barcelona have won 167 of them, Espanyol have won 72, while the remaining 61 have ended in a draw.

Veland considers Barcelona a stronger team, but reminds that it is difficult to predict derby matches:

– Due to the big differences between the clubs, it is natural to assume that Barcelona will win this weekend’s match. At the same time, one does not get away from the fact that “all city towns live their own lives”, and Espanyol has managed to shake Barcelona several times before. At home, they have avoided losses in three of the last four matches, while it takes a little longer between the shocks they manage to create when the matches are played at Camp Nou.

He highlights some matches from history that he thinks evoke fond memories in an Espanyol supporter:

– Espanyol supporters will probably still smile well when they think back to 2009 and the two goals of Ivan de la Peña who gave them 2-1, and not least in the match that ended 2-2 after a double by Raúl Tamudo in the penultimate series round in 2007. The equalizer at the very end ensured that Real Madrid, and not Barcelona, ​​won La Liga that season. Then it may be that Barcelona have won the last 13 home games, he concludes.

FC Barcelona – RCD Espanyol you can watch on TV 2 Play and on TV 2 Sport Premium 2 from 20:30 on Saturday.

CHEERS: Espanyol players cheer for one goal for Raúl Tamudo (second from the left) during the match against Barcelona in 2007. Photo: LLUIS GENE

CHEERS: Espanyol players cheer for one goal for Raúl Tamudo (second from the left) during the match against Barcelona in 2007. Photo: LLUIS GENE

Reference-www.tv2.no

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