Barça start the year with a trip to Huesca (Sunday 3 January at 9.00pm CET), a team they have met very few times in the past. The Aragonese club may require some introduction, so here’s the lowdown…
Where are they from?
Huesca (not to be confused with Huelva in Andalusia and which has also had a Liga team in recent years) is in the north of Aragon, not far from the Pyrenees, and with a population of about 52,000 is one of the smallest provincial capitals in Spain. It’s particularly known for the Fiestas de San Lorenzo held in August each year.
The Sociedad Deportiva Huesca was founded in 1960, although it is essentially the same team that dates back to the Huesca Fútbol Club of 1910. Since 1922, the club has worn similar blaugrana jerseys to FC Barcelona, allegedly because the players were admirers of the Catalan club.
The club spent most of its years playing in the lower leagues, and it wasn’t until 2008 that the team won promotion to the second division for the first time. It was the beginning of the golden era for football in Huesca. Ten years later, in 2018, they won promotion to La Liga for the first time ever, becoming the first Aragonese team apart from Real Zaragoza to play in the top flight.
They only lasted one season, but immediately bounced back up again to enjoy another season among the elite.
The Estadio El Alcoraz is named after a battle in the city in 1096. Opened in 1972, it was expanded when the club won promotion to La Liga in 2018, although with a capacity of 7,638 it is still one of the smallest stadiums to have ever hosted first division football in Spain.
Head to head
Barça first played Huesca in a friendly way back in 1926 (it ended 2-2), while the first competitive meeting was in 2014 when a record attendance at El Alcoraz watched the two teams meet in the Copa del Rey. Barça won the first leg in Aragon 4-0 and then cruised to an 8-1 victory at Camp Nou in the return.
The only other meetings came in Huesca’s debut season in La Liga (2018-19). Although Huesca took an early lead at Camp Nou, Barça went on to win 8-2. The game in Huesca was a much tighter affair, ending 0-0, but despite the dropped points, Barça were still on fine course to win the league title, which they secured a few weeks later.
The season so far
Huesca failed to win any of their first 12 games of the season, but drew a massive eight of them. Their 1-0 victory against Alavés in December is their only win so far, but although they aren’t winning, they’re not an easy team to beat. With nine draws to their name, they have only actually lost six of their 16 games to date.
They’re also still in the Copa del Rey and meet Alcoyano in the second round on January 7.
Shinji Okazaki (Japan, 119 (all-time top goalscorer for Japan with 50 goals)); Dimitris Siovas (Greece, 20); Gastón Silva (Uruguay, 19)
Forward Sandro Ramírez (pictured below) played 61 games for Barça B and between 2014 and 2016 played 17 games for the first team, scoring a goal against Ajax in the Champions League and a hat-trick against CF Villanovense in the Copa del Rey. He played for Everton and four different Spanish clubs before joining Huesca earlier this year.
Tarragona born midfielder Eugeni Valderrama spent most of his teenage years at La Masia.
Forward Rafa Mir spent one year in the youth ranks at FC Barcelona.
Attacking midfielder Sergio Gómez was at Barça for eight years and made his Barça B debut in 2018 before leaving for Borussia Dortmund, from where he is currently on loan.
Top scorers 2020/21 (all competitions)
Rafa Mir (6), Sandro Ramirez (2), Javi Ontiveros (2)
Did you know?
Barcelona born Pablo Maffeo did such a great job of marking Leo Messi when playing for Girona against Barça that Messi said he was the toughest player he had ever faced!
Michel spent most of his playing career at Rayo Vallecano, playing almost 400 games for the club and following retirement became part of the coaching staff. He went on to became first team manager and led the team to promotion to La Liga. He was eventually dismissed, and shortly after joined Huesca, who he has also guided to top spot in division two and promotion to the highest level.