Remembering the Tamudazo When Espanyol Dashed Barcelona's La Liga Title Dream

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistMarch 27, 2014

Barcelona face Espanyol on Saturday and will be wary.
Barcelona face Espanyol on Saturday and will be wary.Bagu Blanco/Getty Images

When Barcelona face Espanyol this weekend, they will be reminded of the 2006-7 title race and the Tamudazo which crushed their La Liga dreams seven years ago.

Raul Tamudo, the man who did the damage, no longer plays for Espanyol but he is always remembered when this fixture comes around.

The Catalan giants were facing their city rivals at the Camp Nou and the table was reminiscent of this season’s close three-way title race.

Real Madrid and Barcelona were level on points, heading into their respective fixtures on 72 points each, while Sevilla were third on 70.

It was the penultimate round of games for the season and any slip-ups would be extremely costly.

Everybody knew that if Barcelona and Madrid finished on equal points at the end of the season, then Los Blancos would win the title because of their superior head-to-head record against the Blaugrana.

Madrid had won 2-0 at the Bernabeu and the two sides had shared the spoils at the Nou Camp in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

Frank Rijkaard had Lionel Messi to thank.
Frank Rijkaard had Lionel Messi to thank.MANU FERNANDEZ/Associated Press

Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona team had Lionel Messi to thank then too, with the forward scoring a hat-trick—just as he did in the recent Clasico.

On June 9, 2007, Rijkaard’s team lined up knowing that they almost certainly needed victory to take the title race down to the final game of the season.

Five of the players in the team that started on that day are still in the current squad—Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Messi.

Meanwhile, Fabio Capello’s Real Madrid were playing against Real Zaragoza.

Travelling to La Romareda was a tough trip, but not one that many thought would actually prevent the Italian’s team from emerging with all three points.

Fabio Capello (right) was in charge of Real Madrid.
Fabio Capello (right) was in charge of Real Madrid.PAUL WHITE/Associated Press

By contrast to Barcelona, only Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas remain in the Madrid squad from that day.

Sevilla, under Juande Ramos, were also away from home and facing RCD Mallorca.

Nobody really believed they would be able to win the title, such was the strength of La Liga’s two traditional giants, but there were certainly contenders mathematically.

The games kicked off at 9 p.m. CET and had more plot twists than your most tangled Hollywood thriller.  

Espanyol made the first impact, when Tamudo netted after 30 minutes.

The striker got on the end of a pass and bent the ball home past Valdes superbly, and into the top right corner, from just inside the box.

But within two minutes, Zaragoza took the lead against Real Madrid.

Centre-back Ivan Helguera clumsily felled Pablo Aimar as he burst into the area and referee Undiano Mallenco pointed to the spot.

Coincidentally, he was the same referee that Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos complained about after last weekend’s Clasico.

Diego Milito sent Casillas the wrong way from the penalty spot and it left things as they were at the start of the day, except Sevilla were one point better off.

Diego Milito (left) gave Real real problems.
Diego Milito (left) gave Real real problems.Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Then Messi made his mark, in a fashion that thankfully has been erased from his game today.

Barcelona’s young star, back then only 19 years old, equalised for Barcelona in an illegal fashion.

Akin to Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God,” the Argentine striker leapt into the air to punch a deflected cross beyond Idriss Carlos Kameni and into the net.

Espanyol’s furious players protested, but referee Julian Rodriguez Santiago was not interested in their complaints and Barcelona sat on top of the table.

Real Madrid pushed for more, creating a few chances, but they could not make the break through and we reached half time.

Barcelona’s game restarted fractionally before Real’s did and they went for the jugular from the whistle.

Finally they took the lead against Espanyol, when Messi was slipped in on the right of the box.

He took the ball in his stride with his left foot and then rolled it into the bottom left corner with his right, in the 57th minute.

Lionel Messi scored twice—once with a handball.
Lionel Messi scored twice—once with a handball.Bagu Blanco/Getty Images

Barcelona now had a three-point lead at the top of the table, on 75 points compared to Real’s 72 and Sevilla’s 70.

But Ruud van Nistelrooy had other ideas. The Dutch hitman powered a header into the ground and over Cesar in the Zaragoza net to level the scores at 1-1.

That brought Real up to 73 points with 56 minutes played at the Romareda.

But Milito struck again for Zaragoza in the 64th minute. The forward cut inside with menace and drilled a low shot under Casillas to put his team 2-1 up.

Madrid hit back and turned the tables on Zaragoza.
Madrid hit back and turned the tables on Zaragoza.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

News spread to the Nou Camp and fans started cheering in the stands.

Madrid pressed for another equaliser but nothing was forthcoming until the 89th minute, when Van Nistelrooy struck again.

His goal, bundled home from virtually underneath the crossbar, meant Real were now level at 2-2 and back on 73 points.

Over to you, Espanyol.

In the final minute of the game, a low through ball found Tamudo on the right of the Blaugrana box.

He waited... and waited... and with Valdes coming out to meet him, eventually slid the ball home.

Dismay flooded the Camp Nou, while Madrid's players waited for news of the scores.

Robinho seemed like he was the first to get it and rushed to tell his team-mates of what has become known as the Tamudazo.

The suffix implies “great goal,” but although it was nicely worked, the actual move was nothing incredible—it’s the significance of it which was being recognised. In this case, more of a "great blow".

Tamudo had been at the club for many years and was on his way to becoming a legend there, but this sealed it.

Now 36 and playing for Sabadell, Tamudo will never be forgotten by Espanyol’s fans.

Tamudo holds the record for most La Liga appearances for Espanyol with 340 and top scorer in that competition with 129 goals, as per Football Espana.

Raul Tamudo has been the thorn in Barca's side.
Raul Tamudo has been the thorn in Barca's side.MANU FERNANDEZ/Associated Press

He even scored against Barcelona in the previous La Liga tie that season, netting as Espanyol ran out 3-1 winners at home.

Tamudo will not be forgotten by Barcelona’s fans either—they have since booed him when he played at the Nou Camp as a Rayo Vallecano striker in March 2013.

It didn’t put him off—the striker scored almost immediately on that occasion too, although it was happier for Barcelona as they ran out 3-1 winners.

Moving into the final day of the season, Barcelona and Madrid were joint top on 73 points, with Sevilla on 71.

Ramos’ side contrived to lose 1-0 to Villarreal and finished third, while Barcelona made no mistakes against Gimnastic, winning 5-1 away and finishing with 76 points.

But Real Madrid also triumphed, earning a 3-1 home win over Mallorca and lifting the La Liga trophy solely on that head-to-head record against Barcelona.

The Catalan side had a far better goal difference—it was 19 goals—but the Tamudazo cost them.

Tata Martino will be anxious to prevent anything similar happening on Saturday afternoon at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat, especially after Madrid slipped up against Sevilla on Wednesday night.


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