Why plucky Es­panyol won’t fear visit of Barcelona

Rubi cred­ited with side’s re­cent re­vival

Sowetan - - Dipapadi -

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

/ DAVID S. BUS­TA­MANTE/GETTY IM­AGES

Luis Suarez of Barca is avail­able for to­mor­row’s clash.

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