On Wednesday 19th August I visited the Power 8 Stadium, home of Barcelona’s other La Liga club RCD Espanyol.
As a huge football fan, I was unable to resist visiting a few nearby stadiums during my holiday in the Spanish city of Barcelona.
One of these was the Power 8 Stadium, home to Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol de Barcelona – better known as RCD Espanyol. Nicknamed ‘The Periquitos’, Espanyol are the city’s second biggest club, behind the world-famous FC Barcelona, having spent 80 seasons in La Liga as well as winning the Copa Del Rey four times and reaching the UEFA Cup final on two separate occasions.
Since their first meeting in 1929, Espanyol and Barcelona have battled in the ‘Derbi Barceloni’. However, due to the monstrous size and success of their local rivals, Espanyol have often struggled in these games – winning just 34 of the 161 meetings.
It was a beautiful, warm Wednesday morning and we made the relatively simple journey to the Estadi Cornella El-Prat, known as the Power 8 Stadium for sponsorship reasons. The home of RCD Espanyol is located in the suburb Cornellà de Llobregat, which is away from the centre of the city but still easily accessible via the metro system.
Opened on the 2nd August 2009, the stadium is the eighth in club’s history. Their most famous and long-standing home was the Estadi de Sarria, where Espanyol played between 1923 and 1997. Following a 12 year spell at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, the club moved to their current location ready for the 2009/10 season – defeating Liverpool 3-0 in the the inaugural game.
The guided tour began at 12:30 and with only a handful of people partaking, it provided a far more personal experience than a visit to the giants of FC Barcelona. Fortunately for us (the only non-Spanish speakers!), our guide spoke English which allowed us to receive a real insight into the club – who interestingly describe themselves as a ‘small club’ despite playing in the top tier of Spanish football, showing the lack of interest in the lower leagues compared to in England.
Over the course of 90 minutes we were shown the press room, the home dressing room – which included a photo opportunity with the recently won Ciutat de Barcelona Trophy, the executive box – where current president Juan Collet watches the games, the tunnel area and of course, pitchside. It was here that we could get pictures both in the dugouts and at the edge of the pitch with the backdrop of this impressive modern stadium under the sunshine and 30-degree heat (“a fresh day” as the guide described it!).
The tour came to an end under the stands at the Dani Jarque memorial. Born in Barcelona, he spent his entire career at RCD Espanyol and was named the team captain just a month before tragically passing away on 8th August 2009, aged just 26. The defender’s shirt number, 21, is retired by the club and there is a statue and fan memorial inside the stadium – including the undershirt worn by close-friend Andres Iniesta, which reads “Dan Jarque, always with us”, when he scored the winning goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final.
RCD Espanyol’s stadium tour is a very enjoyable experience, offering a nice change of pace from the tourism-centered Camp Nou, and I would highly recommend a visit to this friendly club to football fans visiting the city of Barcelona.