Vicente Moreno is a former player, like Xavi, and has faced the now coach Blaugrana once with an athlete
Now that he is a technician at Barcelona, Xavi Hernández has a list of goals as big as its size a club. One of them is to ensure that the city’s rival, the spanish, do not finish at the front in the ranking of Laliga for the first time 79 years.
The first step in the reconstruction that the former midfielder will lead takes place this Saturday, at 5 pm, with live broadcast by ESPN on Star+. It will be his debut at home as coach of the club Xavi loves, with the flavor of a local classic.
As an athlete, Xavi’s record against Espanyol is impressive: he only played against Espanyol more times. Real Madrid than against the Catalan rival. There were 36 matches, with 25 victories and only two defeats.
Not once, in the 17 seasons that Xavi has been at Barcelona, have Espanyol had any chance of finishing at the top of the standings. The closest thing to that happened was in 2005, when four positions separated the two Catalan rivals. The context: the team of Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Deco, Samuel Eto’o, Lionel Messi and co. won the title, while the team led by Raul Tamudo finished in fifth place – even so, they were 23 points behind the champions.
Of course, Espanyol have extra motivation for Xavi’s debut next Saturday. With Barcelona under reconstruction, the chance to do something that hasn’t happened since World War II exists – it was at this time that the blue and white team ended up ahead of their rivals for the last time.
In 2020/21, one of Espanyol’s trump cards is coach Vicente Moreno. A name with the potential to become one of the great Spanish coaches of the next decade.
As a player, Moreno was far from Xavi’s level (quite far)… The only time they met briefly on the field was when an inspired Barcelona beat Xerez at Camp Nou in April 2010, the season in which the Blaugrana team was champion of all. That day, Moreno spent much of the game on the bench and was one of nine players who got the yellow card in a futile attempt to stop Pep Guardiola’s team by force – two were even sent off.
Taking Xerez’s idea – bullying, pushing, hitting – you can make a link to the last time Espanyol won at Camp Nou.
Back then, in 2009, Los Periquitos had just done what Barcelona copied now, naming a young ex-player/hero and asking him to save everyone’s ass. Instead of Xavi in 2021, at the time it was Mauricio Pochettino – the Argentine was one of the favorites of Espanyol fans with almost 300 matches, and after spending his internship time as a coach at the club’s youth team, he took over with Espanyol at the bottom of the table and with a game at the Camp Nou at the top of your schedule.
Espanyol went to face Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, who were fighting at the top of the table – they would get the triple crown at the end of the season – and it was a big surprise. Metaphorically, they had sword and shield ready. But without a doubt, that Espanyol played with determination and surgical efficiency (Ivan De La Pena scored twice), or that they behaved with great confidence until the victory by 2-1 away from home was guaranteed.
Espanyol beat Barcelona the whole game. That night, the teams shared 13 yellow cards and Seydou Keita was sent off. It was extremely brutal, but Espanyol won, and at the end of the season they finished 10th at LaLiga, having come last when Pochettino took charge.
Whether Moreno thinks the idea of ruining Xavi’s debut goes better with a very strong physical and footballing display against a young, unstable, easily tired Barcelona, especially after a long international break, remains to be seen. But no one should be too surprised if that’s the case. What’s a little more dangerous, you have to admit, is how much time has a smart, well-prepared and ambitious guy like Moreno had so far to prepare for this test.
Moreno would be quick to admit how thorough (you could say obsessive) he is about trying to get the best of his team, growing well at 11th with the same score as the team Xavi inherited can beat the big ones. Every working day, he leaves the house at 7 am, about 30 minutes later he is already at work, and his team will tell you, hiding any tiredness, that the rule is a journey of 12 to 13 hours per day at Ciutat Esportiva Dani Jarque, Espanyol training venue.
“If the day has 24 hours, I’d like to dedicate 25 of them to training, preparation, studying videos – even if, as you get older, you try to at least try to impose a reasonable time in your week” is one of the recent speeches by Dark skinned. “Any day players have free time [como em algumas ocasiões de Data Fifa] it’s a vital ingredient in my work because that’s when I have more time to see the images of the rival, to think about what kind of training I want to do during the week, until the match, and how I want us to play.”
This means that by the time you read this text, Moreno will have seen enough material from Barcelona, he will have devoured the details of the second-half collapse of the match against Celta de Vigo, and will have tried to devise such a bold – and well – game plan successful – how much he and Espanyol used to beat Real Madrid last month.
“Last season, starting in Spain’s second division, we had a very clear goal: promotion,” Moreno said recently. “This year, it’s a little harder to be clear about our new goals. The victories we’ve achieved will start to tell us how far we can go, but we’re not going to limit our ambitions yet.”
“The way things are going, with good performances and more fans coming to see us in our stadium, we have a unique opportunity to continue to present the level we showed against Real Madrid. One thing is certain: if we continue to play well, more fans will support us and if we mix that with the project the club has in mind, we can become an important club in LaLiga for years to come.”
Much is at stake for Barcelona and their new manager on Saturday; it is equally an important night for Vicente Moreno, for his ambitious plans and for the chance to break some unpleasant historical records of the Catalan “Derbi”. Buy your snacks, put your phone on silent, get ready in your seat and enjoy. The classic will be excellent.