Countless legendary players have represented Barcelona and Espanyol over the years and the list of Catalan derby alumni is definitely a special one. Here are just five of some of the best players to have taken part in this iconic fixture.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona, 2004-present)
No list of star players would be complete without including Lionel Messi. The Argentine has become an absolute legend of world football since his Barcelona debut in 2004 and has been a thorn in Espanyol’s side for over a decade having scored 21 times in 26 Catalan derbies against Los Pericos. Only six other teams have suffered more at his hands than Espanyol.
Raúl Tamudo (Espanyol, 1997-2010)
Having dedicated most of his career to Espanyol, Raul Tamudo is a legend for the white and blue half of Barcelona. He scored eight goals against Barcelona for Espanyol, but one stands out above the rest. It came on June 9th, 2007, when his last-minute strike earned his team a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou and cost Barcelona that year’s LaLiga title. It was such a special moment for Espanyol fans that the goal has its own name: ‘the Tamudazo’.
Ricardo Zamora (Espanyol, 1916-1919 and 1922-1930, and Barcelona, 1919-1922)
Zamora is one of the most iconic goalkeepers in Spanish footballing history and a large part of his story involves the Catalan derby. He is one of the rare players to have represented both clubs, having been at Espanyol before making the cross-city switch once and then moving back again. Given that most of his career took place before the founding of LaLiga in 1929, these two teams didn’t play quite as frequently in official competition, but Zamora nevertheless became a legend of this fixture. He was such an iconic figure that LaLiga’s award for the best goalkeeper of the season bears his name.
Xavi Hernández (Barcelona, 1998-2015)
With 36 appearances, former Barcelona captain Xavi has taken part in this LaLiga derby more frequently than any other player in history. He won 25 of them, drawing nine and losing just twice, as well as scoring six goals against the Blaugrana’s rivals.
Mauricio Pochettino (Espanyol, 1994-2001 and 2004-2006)
Current Tottenham coach Pochettino played more matches for Espanyol than for any other team during his career across two stints at the Catalan club. He played in 13 Catalan derbies against the side from the Camp Nou but only ever tasted victory once, a 2-0 win in the 1996/97 LaLiga season. It was a big win, however, as those three points ended up costing Barça that year’s championship… as would happen with Tamudo’s goal a decade later.
Catch FC Barcelona vs RCD Espanyol this Saturday from 4:15 pm on SuperSport 7.