Published January 10, 2020

January 10, 2020 IST


Easily the most important fixture on the Barcelona city sporting calendar, LaLiga’s Barcelona derby brings together FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol de Barcelona in a game that presents enormous local pride while showing the iconic city at the world.

The rivalry between the two teams dates back to the beginning of organized football in the city, three decades before the foundation of the La Liga. There have also been derbies played over the years in the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup, the Copa Catalonia and the now defunct Fairs Cup. While the 26-time LaLiga winner in Barcelona has often made it to the top, Espanyol is always eager to upset his historically most successful neighbors.

The two clubs had similar but ultimately different origins in the early 20th century. Barcelona was founded by the Swiss student Hans Gamper in November 1899, with many of the founding members from the city’s cosmopolitan ex-pat community. Espanyol was established in the following October, with Angel Rodriguez Ruiz, a locally born engineering student, and the team drew mainly from migrant workers from other Spanish regions such as Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia and even Madrid.

The first derby took place soon, on December 23, 1900, a draw without goals played at the Camp de Hotel Casanovas stadium, which has now disappeared. The rivalry was well established when LaLiga started in 1929. Both clubs were founding members and Barça’s 5-4 victory during that first season remains the Catalan derby with the highest score ever.

The game has been played in LaLiga every year since then, except for the four seasons that Espanyol spent in the second tier. Barça’s biggest win came early, a 5-0 win in 1933/34, while older Espanyol fans will still remember their team’s record 6-0 success during the 1950/51 LaLiga campaign.

A special moment for the city came in 1957 when Barça and Espanyol met in their only Copa del Rey final to date. Barça won 1-0 at Estadio de Montjuic, the stadium that was the home field of Espanyol from 1997 to 2009. The teams also met in the 2006/07 Spanish Supercopa when Barça was Laiga champion and Espanyol Copa del Rey holder, with the Camp Nou outfit he is running out victorious 4-0 in total.

Former Barça director Xavi Hernandez is the player with the most Catalan derby appearances ever (32), while his former teammate and current captain Lionel Messi has the most goals in the league with 22, including two triplets and a four “poker” goal in 2011/12. Rafael Marañón’s top scorer of Espanyol against his town’s neighbors, with nine between 1974 and 1983, while Raul Tamudo’s famous “Tamudazo” derby draw in 2007 – which cost LaLiga title in Barcelona – secured his place in the history of the tournament.

Many players represented both sides of the city division, tracing back to the legendary 1930s goalkeeper, Ricardo Zamora, born in the city and now honored by the award for the best LaLiga goalkeeper every season. Others who have worn “Blaugrana” and “Blanquiazul” over the years include Ladislao Kubala, Jordi Cruyff, Ivan de la Peña and of course the current Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde.

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