These two clubs from Catalonia are among the oldest in all of Spanish football.
They’ll meet for the first time since 1990 in LaLiga SmartBank this weekend, Spain’s second tier.
CE Sabadell and RCD Espanyol are two clubs that are so close, yet they’ve been so far apart for three decades. These clubs share the same blue and white colours and are based just 40 kilometres away from each other, but they haven’t crossed paths in an official match since 1990, a 1-1 draw in Spanish football’s second division.
When these sides played in that 1989/90 season, Espanyol had dropped into the second tier for one campaign. Yet they boasted legends such as Cameroonian keeper Thomas N’Kono in their side, who was in the final season of his iconic eight-year stay at the club before moving on to Sabadell of all clubs. Today, N’Kono is Espanyol’s goalkeeping coach and far from the only player to connect the two sides.
Another Espanyol legend Rafa Marañon also left the club years before to join Sabadell – a club known as Los arlequinados – in 1983 to help the club move up into the second tier before their promotion to LaLiga Santander in 1986. Players have moved the other way too, among them former Barcelona youth academy star Manu Lanzarote who joined Espanyol in 2013 after an impressive spell with Sabadell.
Back in 1990 when they last met, Espanyol immediately secured a bounce back promotion and only spent one more season below LaLiga Santander level until now – the 1993/94 season, when they were crowned champions of the second tier. CE Sabadell, meanwhile, hasn’t been in Spain’s top division since suffering relegation at the end of the 1987/88 campaign. They’ve even fallen as far down as the fourth tier during that time, but they’re a club on the up again.
In 2019/20, Sabadell won promotion into LaLiga SmartBank via the third-tier playoffs. Across town, RCD Espanyol suffered their first relegation this century from Spain’s first-tier to set up this special Catalan derby. It’s a clash between two of Catalan and Spanish football’s oldest clubs.
It’ll take place this Sunday as part of Matchday Four of the 2020/21 LaLiga SmartBank season, with the match being held at Sabadell’s Nova Creu Alta stadium. The home side will be going out to try to stop one of the giants of the division, a squad with top-quality footballers and many with international experience.
RDT, Wu Lei, Roca, Édgar, Olmo and many more
Marc Roca is one of Espanyol’s most talented stars, though he’s not their only standout player. Along with other talents like Sergi Darder, Leandro Cabrera, Raúl De Tomás and Wu Lei, Roca and los Pericos know they have the quality to achieve their objective of promotion and they’ll be seeking the three points on offer at the Nova Creu Alta. But they haven’t won there since 1972.
It won’t be easy for Vicente Moreno’s side when they make the short trip to Sabadell. Antonio Hidalgo has been in charge of Sabadell for a year and a half and has turned their fortunes around. He has a squad with a nice mix of experience and youth, with veterans such as centre-back Jesús Olmo and striker Édgar Hernández and with youngsters such as goalkeeper Diego Fuoli, defenders Pierre Cornud and Jaime Sánchez, midfielder Iker Undabarrena and strikers Víctor García and Juan Hernández.
One of the extra special LaLiga SmartBank matches
Given all of the above, this promises to be an excellent match of football because there will be so much quality on the pitch and because of the added spice that comes with a derby. Therefore, this match will be played with a special ball. This season, for the first time ever, a ball with a different colour – the yellow Adrenalina PUMA football – will be used for the matches where there is special adrenaline, matches such as Sabadell and Espanyol’s first meeting in 30 years.
Catch the match LIVE on Sunday, 4 October at 16:00 CAT. You can watch it on the LaLiga Smartbank official YouTube channel.
You can also follow the top-tier of Spanish football, Laliga, live on Futaa