A different kind of Barcelona football experience
While most football fans immediately think of FC Barcelona and the famous Camp Nou stadium when they come to Barcelona, watching Espanyol can be just as rewarding. While the atmosphere (or rather lack thereof) is often bemoaned at the Camp Nou – some say the expensive tickets price out most locals – the atmosphere at RCD Espanyol is a lot livelier.
It’s not uncommon to see whole families attending Espanyol home games, with children under the age of six going free (without a seat). The chanting and singing is also a lot more noticeable than at the Camp Nou and overall makes for an (often) more enjoyable match experience.
The club was founded in 1900 and has a strong local following which is only fuelled by the rivalry with FC Barcelona. Unsurprisingly, one of the best matches you can attend is probably a Barcelona Derbi (FC Barcelona vs RCD Espanyol) at the Espanyol stadium. Although this is also the most expensive match you’ll see there with tickets going for around €90 (average ticket price is around €60-€70).
Check the fixtures… and check them again
RCD Espanyol play in Spain’s first division, the so-called La Liga, which is the association in charge of setting the fixtures. The La Liga website is available in English and shows the calendar of fixtures for the season which is usually announced around the end of July.
Importantly though, La Liga can change the date of any given match up to two weeks before the scheduled match day (generally for TV scheduling reasons). Ticket-holders are expected to check the confirmed time of the match and are generally not informed by email of any changes. It’s not uncommon when this happens for people to miss the game as they were not aware of the changes which range from a few hours to a few days.
Getting to the match
Until recently RCD Espanyol’s home stadium was none other than the Lluís Companys Olimpic stadium on Montjuïc. As of 2009 the club has had a new stadium, the RCDE Stadium, located on the outskirts of Barcelona in the municipality of Cornellà de Llobregat. This 45,000 seat stadium was awarded ‘Stadium of the Year’ by the Stadium Business Awards in 2010 and the stadium generally receives positive feedback from foreign visitors.
The easiest way to get to the stadium on match day is to take the train to the nearby train station of Cornellà (journey time is around 16 minutes) and then walk for around 15 minutes. Although the stadium has only half the capacity of the Camp Nou, it can still be busy on match days so be sure to allow plenty of time ahead of the game.
Eating and drinking around the stadium
Although you won’t have the same choice of venues as you would in central Barcelona, there are bars and restaurants to be found in the centre of Cornellà. The Bar Gol is a favourite with the local fans and serves local beer and a selection of traditional Spanish tapas.
Alternatively, just next to the RCDE Stadium you’ll find the Splau shopping mall which houses a number of fast-food and casual restaurants serving pizza, burgers, pasta and sandwiches as well as some healthier options. The stadium itself contains some 27 bars but take note that like at the Camp Nou, the stadium serves alcohol-free beer.
That said, given the relatively short travel time from central Barcelona, having a drink and a bite to eat in the city centre before the game is definitely an option. Consider stopping off in the neighbourhood of Sants which has many affordable bars and restaurants along the Carretera de Sants and the Plaça de Sants (and is on the way to the RCDE Stadium).
Where to find club shops
Whether you want to buy a club shirt to wear at the game or want a souvenir after a good day, a trip to an official club shop can be a good idea. There are two official RCD Espanyol shops within the stadium where you will be able to buy shirts, scarfs, footballs, shorts, mascots and more.