Everything will be new for Xavi Hernández, who will debut as coach at Barcelona on Saturday and in LaLiga. And, at the same time, everything will be known: his team, former teammates, the Camp Nou … and the adversary, a Espanyol with whom he has been fighting for 30 years He ended up at La Masia and with whom, even in his new role from the bench, he has pending accounts.
From the fry, that rivalry was nurturing –the greatest that a Barcelona player can experience in the lower categories–, which continued in the elite. Although he did not reach the 42 confrontations he had with Real Madrid, he did Xavi made Espanyol his favorite opponent, whom he scored the most goals (six) throughout his career, in the 36 times they crossed paths, one more even than Lionel Messi. His seventh official match with the Barça first team, at just 18 years old, already took place in Montjuïc.
And in the stadium that hosted Espanyol until its transfer to Cornellà-El Prat there was also the first great controversy of the egarense in a derby. The match of first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, on August 17, 2006, just two days after Carles Puyol and Xavi were called off from a friendly of the Spanish National Team against Iceland due to injuries, in the case of the midfielder due to the poor condition of his knee.
But both they recovered in record time and played, what led Espanyol to request the challenge of the party. The parakeet club was covered by the rule that prevented them from participating in a match in the five days after being removed from an international commitment due to justified injury. Competition –except for the private vote of the now known Enrique Arnaldo– and Appeal they dismissed the appeals challenged for alleged misalignment, and Barça won the Super Cup on the return, with Xavi’s goal to open the final 3-0. Thus conquered one of his 23 titles at Barça.
No less controversial was the derby of 12 December 2009, at the Camp Nou like this Saturday, which was decided in a penalty embodied by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and committed, supposedly, by Raúl Baena on the current culé coach. “It was clear, he grabbed me inside the area, I was left standing without strength in my leg and I fell,” Xavi justified. “It is not a penalty at all,” the canterano parakeet complained bitterly. The point is that Eduardo Iturralde González pointed it out, thus fueling a rivalry that, from Saturday, will start new and unexplored chapters.