Spain men's national football team to play in Catalonia for first time in 18 years
Friendly match against Albania at RCD Espanyol stadium on March 26
Spain's men's national football team will be back in Catalonia for the first time in 18 years.
On March 26, Luis Enrique's team will play a friendly match against Albania at the RCD Espanyol stadium in Cornellà de Llobregat, near Barcelona, as was announced on Monday.
🚨 AMPLIACIÓN | Partidos amistosos de la @SeFutbol en marzo:— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) January 17, 2022
🗓️ 26 | Contra Albania 🇦🇱 en Cornellà.
‼️ España volverá a Barcelona 18 años después.
🗓️ 29 | Contra Islandia 🇮🇸 en A Coruña, 13 años más tarde de la última visita.
ℹ️ Toda la información: https://t.co/VnxWYiTjG8 pic.twitter.com/lvXtQwFGCL
The last time the team played in Catalonia was on February 18, 2004, in a friendly against Peru at Barcelona's Lluís Companys Olympic stadium on Montjuïc.
The last official league match in Catalonia, however, took place years earlier, on Spain's national day in 1975 just over a month before dictator Francisco Franco died. This game was also at the RCD stadium, but at the time it was still located in the Catalan capital's Sarrià neighborhood.
The Spanish national team has had a shaky relationship with Catalonia throughout the years, despite featuring many FC Barcelona and Espanyol players, and the decision to play in Catalonia in March has already been criticized by pro-independence sympathizers.
The Col·lectiu Blan-i-Blau Roger de Llúria group of Espanyol fans, for example, said it was "a mistake" to host the game as it "bothers half of all Espanyol members."
"Since the Catalan team played against Nigeria in our stadium, far-right supporters among Espanyol fans have not stopped asking to host the Spanish national team," their statement reads. "They have finally gotten what they wanted."