More than a decade ago Barça did not lose their home against Espanyol in a league game. The last white-and-blue coach to achieve this was precisely Ernesto Valverde, a distant January 13, 2007 at the Montjuïc stadium. The day that Frank Rijkaard broke one of the walls of the bench with a knock. Since then, in matches of the regularity championship, Barça have always scored in their visits to the white and blue skies, first in Montjuïc and then in Cornellà-El Prat: six wins and five draws. A dynamic that Ernesto Valverde wants to continue and hopes to cut Francsec Ferrer Rubi, who will try to imitate his Barça counterpart and defeat Barça again as a local today at dusk (8:45 p.m., Movistar Partidazo).
"What if I have changed a lot since my time as coach of Espanyol? Well I suppose in some things more and, in others, not so much. It's a very difficult question. " In this way he sent a Valverde smiling yesterday a question that was not expected in the preceding one of the most equal derbies in recent years. In fact, if we look at the start of the Espanyol course since their last win as a local in a derby, only the 2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons came with more points and in a better position at fifteenth A day that this year, which coincides with a derby.
The 2007-08 season Valverde signed a great start on the white-and-blue bench, in which he had managed to defeat teams such as Real Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla, triumphs that allowed him to climb to the fifth Position after the first fourteen games. The 2010-11 season, in the second year of Mauricio Pochettino as coach of Espanyol, the periquito set was planted in the fifteenth day of the League as the fourth classified, away, yes, to nine points of one Pep Guardiola's Barça leading with 37 points. A separation lower than that of the current League, where Barça is leading with twenty-eight points, seven more than Espanyol, who occupy the eighth position with twenty-one.
This year we are facing one of the most equal seasons of the last years: only eight points separate the first, Barca, from ninth, Getafe. No less surprising are the irruptions of teams such as Alavés, Levante, Girona and Espanyol himself in the upper area. "It is costing us a lot to add points away from home. Not only to us, it is a general tonic. This is one of the reasons why the League is so balanced. This makes the three points of the derby even more important, "Valverde argued yesterday.
The heart, more decisive than the table
The lack of points between Barça and Espanyol with respect to other seasonal derbies, however, is not for the Basque coach, a factor that determines that today's situation is more equal than the others: "It is true that it is a derby equalized by the distance, but these games play a lot from the heart and a bit from the head. It's a special match ". The latest story gives him the reason, since in the last victory of Espanyol in a derby of the League (1-2, in February 2009), the blanc-i-blaus were planted at the Camp Nou as In shorts, while Barça was a leader.
Valverde did, however, say that Espanyol "is in a very good moment" – despite losing the last three league games – and that they "become strong in their stadiums". That is why the Basque called the "fire test" the duel. Valverde also praised Rubi, who did not rule out the possibility of following Barça's own model: "Rubi has always been characterized to play playing from behind, to put pressure on the front and to work well on the strategy, but that depends on the players you have. He has good players like Marc Roca, Darder, Granero … that allow him to make good football. Borja Iglesias has been a great signing … "
The Blaugrana coach, despite praising Rubi and claiming that his Espanyol "is different", does not consider him more dangerous than last year, led by Quique Sánchez Flores and that he was able to defeat Barça at Cornellà-El Prat (1-0) in Cup match. The duel this evening will be another story and Valverde is not expected to make great changes at the eleventh gala. The Txingurri, who can not count on the injured Arthur, Umtiti, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Malcom, recovers Luis Suarez. Therefore, the main incognito at eleven focuses on knowing who will form the offensive trident if the Uruguayan starts off: relegating Dembélé to the bench when he is playing better or sitting down a Coutinho who can not do a good match since he recovered from the injury?
Meanwhile, in Espanyol, Rubi is in doubt of central Mario Hermoso, but he recovers the forward Sergio García, who, like him, has a part of his past linked to Barça. With the clear slogan of "not obsessing with Messi", Rubi calls for a full RCD Stadium and a "sporty spirit" – the same thing that Gerard Piqué hopes for not reviving past polemics. The Catalan coach wants to emulate Valverde and win the derby as a local. On the Barça bench, the Basque coach will not be left with nostalgia and will seek the victory so that Barça remains a leader.