Why plucky Espanyol won’t fear visit of Barcelona
Rubi credited with side’s recent revival
Barcelona – Espanyol coach Rubi has transformed the fortunes of the often underachieving Catalan club and galvanised hopes ahead of tomorrow’s city derby at home to La Liga champions Barcelona.
Victory for seventh-placed Espanyol would move them to within four points of leaders Barca and further enhance the reputation of their coach, who spent a season at the Nou Camp working as an assistant.
Rubi began his coaching career in the lower leagues of Spanish football, with sides such as Hospitalet and Espanyol’s reserve team, winning promotion to the third tier of Spanish football with the latter.
He stood out in these typically gritty surroundings for having an attacking outlook and insisting that his teams dominate possession.
This was followed by a brief spell at Barca as an assistant.
Rubi soon returned to management, taking over Valladolid, Levante and Sporting Gijon with varying degrees of success.
He then stormed to a first top-flight promotion with tiny Huesca.
Yet instead of leading Huesca into their first season in La Liga, he returned to Espanyol, where he had spent his early years as a coach in charge of the reserve team.
An excellent run of home form, winning five of six games, has taken them to seventh place, sparking hopes of a push for European football next season.
“Espanyol are demanding respect again and everyone knows they are a powerful team,” said former player Luis Garcia of the team’s revival under Rubi.
Barca will be boosted by the return of Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for tomorrow’s encounter. – Reuters
Luis Suarez of Barca is available for tomorrow’s clash.