Sergi Gómez, the Espanyol central defender, has become one of the best signings of the summer. Unquestionable in the rear, he faces the derby with enthusiasm for his past culé. He does not trust the theoretical bad moment of Barça although he remembers that he already knows what it is to win at the Camp Nou. He respects the rival but wants to win.
On Saturday, visit the Camp Nou, a special match for you as it is one of your former teams. What feelings do you have?
It is always special to play against Barcelona and more so in the situation in which I arrive, being defending a shield as big as Espanyol. Having the opportunity to play a derby with Espanyol makes me very excited and eager to get our best version in this match.
Surprise factor Xavi, is it an element that can help or harm Espanyol?
Vicente Moreno said it, whenever there is a new coach there are changes, because each one has their rules of the game and their rules. And in addition, a change always generates illusion because people hope that there will be improvement. And that obviously can play against us. But for our part, all that does not affect us. We have to look at ourselves because we have already been preparing the game for many days and we know what we have to do.
Is Barça more vulnerable or human that you remember from recent years?
I believe that Barça has never been vulnerable and never will be. They always have great players and go through a good or bad streak, they always are. The only way to get something positive out of there is to play a ’10’ match and make the most of our chances.
From your time, with whom do you maintain contact? Some player with whom these days he has already exchanged messages talking about the derby.
If I remember correctly, apart from Busquets and Piqué, there is Sergi Roberto, who I do maintain contact with him because I shared many years in lower categories. There is always the ‘tagline’ that has told me “good in the derby, calm down, eh?”. We have a relationship but in this type of game each one defends his own because we are professionals. And when the game ends it is something else.
You have played almost everything since you signed for Espanyol, except the game that was suspended. Are you happy to have chosen Espanyol?
When I arrive at Espanyol, I am convinced and I know that it is the best decision I can make. He was at Sevilla in a different situation. And when a team comes to you with enthusiasm and enthusiasm and you perceive that feeling that it is the right place to continue progressing, it is easy. Everything was very clear to him. I am enjoying a lot in a spectacular club, with unbeatable teammates. It is very appreciated to arrive and from the first day feel so integrated, like one more.
Espanyol’s last triumph at Campo Nou was the Delapeñazo, two goals from Iván, a former culé like you. Have you imagined scoring at the Camp Nou?
Of course it can be given, but beyond scoring or not, the most important thing is victory. We have to compete very well and winning at the Camp Nou can be very nice, not only for us but for all the parakeets who always support us and are in that daily struggle to get their chest out for being parakeets. To be able to give joy to our people would be the best victory.
What makes you more excited, winning to pass Barça in the classification, or to settle the subject of winning at home?
Being above Barça is symbolic. The first thing we want is to play a complete game and add a good victory away, there is no better rival to do it than against Barcelona. And keep pulling up and climbing positions.
For a central defender, Barça is the most difficult rival to stop alongside Real Madrid and Atlético?
The reality is that we have a level Barça in front of us, even though it has gone through its bad times. Their numbers at home are there, there is no need to trust or relax. On the contrary, we must give our best version to try to win the game. If not, not even out of amazement will we be able to win. The game to win it happens by having a block together and united, it is not only a matter of the defenders.
Is it the most even derby you can remember in recent years?
They are games that are ‘final’ for everyone. Sometimes in a derby you arrive worse than the rival but you win it and you turn the dynamics of the team upside down. I don’t think you have to get too obsessed, but rather enjoy and get our best version out. And from here if we can take a victory, great.
Not facing Messi helps
We are all aware that Messi has been and is being a player who has made a difference worldwide in recent years. And having a player of that level in front of us made things more difficult for us. But the fact that he is not here does not mean that Barça is an easy opponent, far from it, since they have high quality players and that demands our highest level.
His last visit so far to the Camp Nou was with Sevilla
The last game against Barça was the elimination of the Copa del Rey that put us in the discount. But I have a great memory of a match with Celta. We won 0-1 with a goal from Nolito at Camp Nou, my first year in Vigo with Berizzo. Winning there is a joy and a satisfaction. 5 or 6 years ago, but I do know what it’s like to win there. “