Messi double in Derbi Barceloni


RCD Espanyol 0 v FC Barcelona 4 (Saturday 8 December 2018)

Author: Mark Szczuka

As local derbies around the world go, the Barcelona derby (or Derbi Barceloni as it’s known) is somewhat tame. For FC Barcelona, the El Clasico match against Real Madrid holds more importance than the local derby against their Catalan neighbours, RCD Espanyol.

The greater significance of El Clasico has also been intensified in recent years due to the fact that Barça and Real have been battling it out for most of the Spanish, and indeed European titles, between them.

Espanyol have had to make do with mid or bottom table domestic finishes and the odd Copa del Rey wins in 2000 and 2006 as well as being runners-up in the 2007 UEFA Cup. Indeed Espanyol has only managed to finish above Barça on three occasions in the last 70 years.

Added to that is also the recent intensifying of Catalan independence tensions between Catalan’s Capital Barcelona and Spain’s Capital Madrid, which is represented strongly by many Barça fans proudly displaying pro-independence flags at matches and Real Madrid fans showing patriotism to their club’s royal roots by supporting king and country with Spanish flags.

Interestingly, Espanyol have not followed the example set by their bigger neighbours and the club have either tended to stay away from politics or indeed shown loyalty to Madrid. This was evidenced at tonight’s latest derby match by many Spanish flags being waved before kick off by the Espanyol home fans with only a handful of them holding pro-independence Catalan flags in the 80%-full stadium.

Espanyol fans before tonight’s Barcelona derby

Even the attraction of a local derby wasn’t enough to create a sell-out in Espanyol’s still relatively new 40,000-capacity stadium. Average attendances in fact have dropped almost every year since it opened in 2009 from around 28k to 18k last season. Despite the dwindling attendances it’s still a very impressive stadium.

The 40,000 Capacity RCDE Stadium hosted tonight’s Barcelona derby 

A peculiar tradition in Spanish football is the reluctance of away fans to attend matches. Even derby matches don’t seem for some reason to entice many fans of the visiting team, despite the lack of excuse of having to travel far. Tonight’s away section had a capacity of about 500 and there were 14 fans in it.

This was certainly very noticeable as the goals rained in tonight for Barcelona, which were greeted each time by almost silence around the stadium.

Barça were 3-0 up by half-time. Lionel Messi of course started things of with a stunning free-kick in the top corner. Espanyol had a couple of chances of their own early on but they were no match for last season’s La Liga champions. Further goals followed for Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez in the first half before Messi scored another glorious free-kick in the second half to end tonight’s scoring.

Spain plays host to another derby match tomorrow when South American’s equivalent of the UEFA Champions League Final, the Copa Libertadores Final (second leg) takes place in Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

The final is being played between two of world football’s most deadliest derby rivals, River Plate and Boca Juniors, and the match has been moved from Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires to Spain’s capital because of crowd problems a couple of weeks ago when River fans attached the Boca team bus.

In Argentina they stopped allowing away fans at most domestic matches several years ago due to clashes between rival fans. However, moving the match across continents to a country which doesn’t tend to see too many away fans at most matches, has given the ironic chance for this historic derby to once again create the amazing atmosphere.


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