Xavi Hernández made his debut as Barcelona coach on November 20 of last year against Espanyol. Sixteen games later and thanks to the asymmetric calendar, the Terrassa coach will repeat tomorrow for the first time against an opponent against whom he has already played. Since that day, the landscape has changed a lot on both sides, but a derby is still a derby.
Xavi’s first game in charge of the Blaugrana team came in a limit situation for the Catalans and very hopeful for the Blue and Whites. Barcelona at that time occupied ninth place in the qualifying table with 18 points added in twelve games. Espanyol, thanks to a great start to the campaign at home, was one point behind the Blaugrana, with one game more disputed. The parakeets occupied position 11 in the classification, so if they won at the Camp Nou they would surpass the Catalans in the table.
In a game that was a birth for the locals, Xavi managed to add his first three points as Barça coach in a duel not without controversy. In two and a half months many things have changed on both sides.
From the illusion of sorpasso in the derby of the first round to living the harsh reality. This summarizes the trajectory of the Espanyol in this stretch in which they have lost their defensive reliability and only goals from Raúl de Tomás have kept the parakeet team afloat in LaLiga. The Blue and Whites are now 11 behind. Europe has moved away and the entity is only thinking about getting 42 points as soon as possible and avoiding major scares.
That Espanyol had received 13 goals in 13 games, while in the following ten games they accumulated 19a bloodletting that has caused Vicente Moreno’s men to lose their balance and reach the derby with the worst feelings of the course, although, as they have shown throughout history, these are perhaps the most dangerous moments for the azulgrana.
The team that has changed the most compared to that day is Barcelona. On that occasion Xavi had to pull on players like Ilias, Coutinho or Demir, who are no longer in the first team, or Riqui Puig and Mingueza, who have barely played since then.
In exchange, Xavi now he has Ferran Torres, Aubameyang, Traoré and Alves, although the Brazilian will miss the game after his suspension is confirmed. Pedri has also rejoined.
In Espanyol the great novelty is the incorporation of Vilhena, which premiered on Monday in San Mamés scoring a goal three minutes after making his debut. However, since that first confrontation Barça has added 20 points and is now fourth instead of ninth and Espanyol, 14, dropping to thirteenth place. The landscape has changed, but the derby is still unpredictable.