Now that he is trainer of Barcelona, Xavi Hernandez has an inventory of goals so long as his arm, one in all which is to make sure that town competitors Espanyol do not end forward in their Camp Nou competitors for the primary time in 79 years.
The primary construction block comes this Saturday, when the 41-year-old may have his house debut as the chief of the membership he loves, marked through the depth of a derby event. As a footballer — no, strike that: as a genius midfielder who is within the argument to be the most productive participant Spain ever produced — Xavi’s file in opposition to Los Periquitos used to be little in need of wonderful. He handiest performed one membership rival (Real Madrid) extra continuously than Espanyol, and of the 36 occasions he performed within the “Derbi” of Barcelona, he received 25 and misplaced handiest two times.
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No longer as soon as within the 17 seasons that this dyed-in-the-wool Barcelona supporter with magic in his boots — if he’d been born with lead in his boots, he’d nonetheless had been within the Camp Nou each two weeks roaring on his Blaugrana heroes — used to be there truly any likelihood of being embarrassed through Espanyol completing forward of Barcelona in LaLiga. The nearest they got here used to be in 2005 when there have been handiest 4 puts setting apart the 2 Catalan aspects; the context in the back of it used to be that Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Deco, Samuel Eto’o, Lionel Messi & Co. received the name whilst Miguel Angel Lotina’s Espanyol, boasting Dani Jarque, Ivan De L. a. Pena and Raul Tamudo, completed an out-of-character 5th… however nonetheless 23 chunky issues in the back of the champions.
To set the scene forward of Saturday’s extraordinarily checking out house debut — and you would not be silly to take a position that Espanyol can see alternative beckoning — it is price realizing that the closing time the blue-and-white 1/2 of the town completed forward of the Blaugrana in LaLiga, International Battle II used to be nonetheless 3 years clear of its conclusion. The opposite undesirable file is that the closing time Espanyol received at Camp Nou, it used to be February 2009 — there have been some courses for the visiting trainer this Saturday, Vicente Moreno, however extra of that later.
A number of issues make Saturday night time’s sport a captivating, must-see contest, handiest one in all which is being witness to the beginning of Xavi’s first training gig in LaLiga. (The start of what many, me integrated, assume could be a very particular managerial profession.) The opposite components making their “Derbi” extra alluring than same old are, it is truthful to mention, much less glowingly sure for Barcelona.
No longer handiest do Barca have a debilitating harm record, however Xavi would possibly not be totally certain of which of his injured and “unsure” gamers are 100% match-fit till beautiful with regards to kick-off. Some key figures would possibly not make it. Worse nonetheless is the truth that at the opposing bench there is somebody who seems like he can grow to be one of the most heavyweights of Spanish training over the following decade and past.
As a footballer, no longer handiest used to be Vicente Moreno (with all due admire) no longer in Xavi’s league — they were not in the similar stratosphere. The one time they met as opposing midfielders, very in short, used to be when a Xavi-inspired Barcelona, in the middle of a three-trophy season, received a pitched combat in opposition to Xerez at Camp Nou in April 2010. That day, on as a sub for approximately 1/2 an hour when it used to be already 3-1 to the house aspect, Moreno used to be one of the most 9 bookings and two crimson playing cards as Xerez attempted to bully a beautiful exciting Barca aspect out of its rhythm, to little impact. However for many who love to expect what would possibly occur in large, highly-anticipated fits, there could also be a theme right here.
Taking the Xerez thought — bully, kick, shove — you’ll hyperlink again to the closing time Espanyol received at Camp Nou.
Again then in 2009, Los Periquitos had simply carried out what Barcelona have copied, appointing a tender, former participant/hero and asking him to save lots of everybody’s bacon. As a substitute of Xavi in 2021, again then it used to be Mauricio Pochettino — the Argentinian have been a darling of the Espanyol lovers throughout just about 300 fits, and after spending apprentice time training within the membership’s adolescence machine, he took over with Espanyol rock-bottom of the desk and with a sport at Camp Nou best of his schedule.
Espanyol went to stand Pep Guardiola’s Treble-chasing Barcelona — they would achieve that trophy hat-trick later that 12 months — totally kitted out to spring a significant wonder. Metaphorically, they’d cutlass and defend on the able. However let there be indubitably in any respect that Espanyol performed with verve and medical potency (Ivan De L. a. Pena scored two times), or that they carried out with overall self-confidence till the 2-1 away win used to be secured. However to make use of the euphemism “tough” can be to rob their efficiency of the street-fighting component that made the adaptation.
Espanyol bullied Barcelona far and wide the pitch. That night time, the groups shared 13 yellow playing cards and Seydou Keita used to be despatched off. It used to be ultra-bruising, however Espanyol received, and through the tip of the season they completed a in truth outstanding tenth in LaLiga, having been backside when “Poch” took over.
Whether or not Moreno thinks that the speculation of spoiling Xavi’s debut is going higher with an overly tough footballing and bodily show in opposition to a tender, wobbly, too-easily-tired Barcelona aspect, particularly simply after an extended global damage, continues to be noticed. However no person must be too shocked if this is the case. What is reasonably extra threatening, you would need to admit, is how lengthy a shrewd, well-prepared and impressive man like Moreno has needed to get ready for this check.
Moreno can be fast to confess how thorough (it’s possible you’ll say obsessive) he’s about understanding how highest his staff, flourishing effectively in eleventh at the identical issues because the staff Xavi has inherited, can beat the massive weapons. Each and every unmarried operating day, he is out of the home at 7 a.m., in paintings about half-hour later, and his workforce will inform you, protecting any weariness well-hidden, that the norm is a 12-13 hour day on the Ciutat Esportiva Dani Jarque, Espanyol’s emotively named coaching amenities.
“If the day has 24 hours, I might love to commit 25 of them to training, making ready, observing movies — even supposing as you grow older, you a minimum of take a look at to impose a smart timetable in your week” is one in all Moreno’s fresh admissions. “Any day when the gamers have day off [as they have on a couple of occasions this international break] is a crucial element in my paintings as a result of it is when I am getting probably the most time to look at tapes of the rival, to infer what sort of coaching classes I wish to lay on for the week construction as much as the event, and the way I would like us to play.”
Which means that by the point you learn this column, Moreno has already considered enough “edits” of Barcelona subject matter, he’s going to have wolfed up the main points in their second-half cave in at Celta Vigo a fortnight in the past, and he’s going to have tried to plan a game-plan as bold — and a hit — as he and Espanyol used to overcome Actual Madrid closing month.
“Ultimate season, in arising from the Segundo, we had a truly obviously outlined goal: promotion,” stated Moreno lately. “This 12 months, it’s kind of more difficult to be crystal transparent about our new goals. The wins we reach will begin to let us know how some distance we will move, however we would possibly not be striking any limits on our ambitions simply but.
“The way in which issues are going, with excellent performances and extra other folks coming to look at us in our stadium, we’ve got were given a novel alternative to stay on generating the extent we confirmed in opposition to Actual Madrid. Something needless to say is if we stay acting, extra lovers gets in the back of us and if we combine that with the mission the membership is making plans, we will grow to be the most important LaLiga membership within the coming years.”
A lot is at stake for Barcelona and their new trainer on Saturday; it is similarly an enormous night time for Vicente Moreno, for his formidable plans and for the danger to shred a few undesirable ancient information hooked up to the Catalan “Derbi.” Purchase your snacks, put the telephone on silent, pull up your chairs, take a seat again and experience. The Catalan ‘Derbi’ goes to be scrumptious.