Xtra - Spurs vs Espanyol - the insider!
07 August 2013|Tottenham Hotspur
Guillem Balague is a familiar face to anyone who watches Sky Sports' coverage of La Liga – and just happens to be a big Espanyol fan.
The UK correspondent for Madrid-based sports newspaper AS has written a biography of former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and is currently hard at work on a similar book on Barca ace Lionel Messi. Guillem has supported Espanyol from childhood, so who better to give us the inside track on our opponents in our final pre-season friendly at the Lane on Saturday.
Guillem spoke to our new-look official matchday programme about his love of Espanyol - here are his thoughts on the team's performance last season and players to look out for.
The full interview will appear in Saturday's programme...
What are your thoughts on Espanyol’s season in 2012-13?
Guillem Balague: "It was a season of transition really. We started with Mauricio Pochettino as manager, who had a clear philosophy of bringing through youngsters into the first team and playing a possession style of football. But that kind of ran its course and he parted company, so then it was just about making sure we didn’t go down. Javier Aguirre came in and did more than enough. We avoided relegation with him in charge and if we had started the season in the form that came about in the second half of the campaign, we would have been challenging for a Champions League spot. He offers a different, more direct and physical approach and one that links quite well with the public."
What are your hopes for the club for this season - and which players should we look out for?
Guillem: "We’ve just built a new stadium which is one of the best in Spain now, it is fantastic, but it will still be a tough season ahead. Obviously at this stage of pre-season, everyone is looking forward with confidence and I’m hoping we can have a good season. In terms of players, Wakaso has got something different about him, he’s physical, fast and very direct. It’s difficult to get too excited about our players at this stage because we have a lot from the youth ranks and lower leagues and it takes time for these to develop. They might be great players in time and hopefully they can achieve that with Espanyol."