Team Spotlight: Espanyol and living in Barcelona’s shadowFebruary 2, 2018
On the face of it, reaching the UEFA Cup final in 2007 and winning the Copa del Rey a year earlier is not a bad achievement if you are not Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid or Sevilla.
But if such a question was to pop up in a quiz, most would find it difficult to not choose one of those four. The correct answer would be Espanyol
A club that has not become defined by its own successes, but rather by its proximity and that they are Catalonia’s second-best side yet would provide underwhelming competition for one of the biggest teams in the world, should there ever be a breakaway league in the region.
So near, yet so far
Just over 6km walk from the famous Nou Camp, home to 24-time La Liga winners Barcelona, sits the RCDE Stadium, Espanyol’s 40,500-seater arena that is only a bit smaller than Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and Juventus’ Allianz Stadium.
Yet, the gulf in quality between the teams is more than significant, with Barca recently signing Philippe Coutinho for a club-record £142m, while their cross-town rivals made Maxi Rodriguez their most expensive recruit for £5.4m in during the 2002/03 season.
While they were last in the Segunda Division in 1994, currently spending their 24th consecutive season in the top flight, Espanyol have yet to make a name for themselves, aside from being Barca’s noisy neighbours.
Not biggest rivalry
Like most clubs in football, the biggest rivalry is against the side that are closest to them geographically, like Arsenal and Tottenham in England or Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad in the Basque Country.
Yet, Espanyol have been overlooked by Barcelona for a far greater occasion, one that is typically among the best match-ups every season, the El Clasico against Real Madrid.
Fixtures between the two are often one-sided, with Barcelona winning all-but one of their last five matches, scoring 14 goals in the process, compared to Espanyol’s two solitary strikes.
While Espanyol have not performed badly since returning to La Liga, not becoming embroiled in a relegation battle and finishing below 14th since 2006 and have played in the UEFA Cup three times since the turn of the century.