Barcelona intent on avoiding history repeating itself
When Barcelona host local rivals Espanyol on Saturday hoping to edge closer to the La Liga title, many may be haunted by Raul Tamudo’s 89th minute equaliser which wrecked their title bid in 2006/07.
Just as they will do on Saturday, Espanyol visited the Nou Camp in the penultimate weekend.
Barcelona were on course to go into the final game of the season on top after taking a 2-1 lead. But Tamudo struck what is now infamously known as the ‘Tamudazo’, handing the title to Real Madrid.
Barca are top of La Liga on 85 points due to their superior head-to-head record with second-paced Atletico Madrid, also on 85, while Real are third with 84.
Espanyol are 14th with 40 points.
Luis Enrique’s Barca have won their last three games after relinquishing their nine-point lead over Atletico following three straight defeats. But another slip up against Espanyol, who held Barca to a goalless draw in back in January, could prove costly.
Defender Jordi Alba said thoughts of events in 2007 are far from his mind, but admitted Espanyol would be stubborn opponents.
“A ‘Tamudazo’ isn’t on my mind, but Espanyol are a difficult team who need points and they play these games with a lot of intensity,” Alba said on Wednesday at a sponsor’s event.
“They’ll want to win, but so do we. We are at home and we’re not approaching this game scared about a ‘Tamudazo’. We’ll have our fans behind us and we’ll be really up for it, and I’m certain we’ll deliver in the game.”
Barca will be without goalkeeper Claudio Bravo due to a calf injury, allowing Marc Andre ter Stegen, who usually only plays in cup competitions, to see out the league campaign.
Barca’s title rivals Atletico and Real must put the euphoria of reaching the Champions League final to one side to ensure they pounce on any Barcelona slip up.
Atletico travel to already-relegated Levante after knocking Bayern Munich out on away goals on Tuesday.
Levante stunned Diego Simeone’s Atletico by winning 1-0 in May 2014, although Atletico eventually won the title, but the league’s bottom club now have just their pride to play for after being condemned to the Segunda Division by last Monday’s 3-1 defeat at Malaga.
Real Madrid, which secured their place in the Champions League final, by edging past Manchester City 1-0 on aggregate, host Valencia, who have a habit of interrupting Real’s title bids in recent seasons.