Barcelona host minnows Huesca on Sunday, which may not be the most exciting encounter of the weekend, but if you are a fan of little clubs taking on global giants, this one is for you.
Huesca have visited this stadium once in their history, that was in 2014, where Barcelona won 8-1, topping off a 12-1 aggregate win in the Copa del Rey. A lot can change in four years, especially in football – Huesca are no exception to that.
The game at the Nou Camp has a cup tie feel to it. That is credit to Huesca, the team from Aragon who only dreamt of games like this for the rest of their history, which started in 1960.
Sociedad Deportiva Huesca are two games deep into their inaugural season in in the Spanish top flight, and are currently taking the division by storm, registering 4 points from a possible 6.
When promoted, Huesca were ordered to renovate their stadium, Estadio El Alcoraz. It made history as the smallest ground in La Liga history, but have since added an extra 2500 to their ground. And why not? If history is anything to go by, Huesca fans should take their chance whilst they can and go and watch Oscence – the nickname given to people of the town.
Another nickname they use is azulgranas, due to the colours of their shirt, which is the same as the Barcelona Blaugrana. Why? Because Huesca were setup by a group of Barcelona fans, thus decided they would play in the same colours. They become the fourth team in La Liga to wear these colours, with Eibar and Levante being the other two.
If the part where I described Huesca as minnows was understated or misunderstood, let me reel off some facts ahead of this encounter to drill home that point: you could fit the whole population of the town of Huesca into the Nou Camp, nearly twice; Lionel Messi’s weekly salary is greater than Huesca’s summer transfer budget; the club ran on just €100k per year when president Peton took over.
Speaking of Peton, he is the man behind Huesca’s success story. As the CEO, Jose Antonio Martin Otin (known as Peton), the ex-player revamped how the club was run slowly but surely since he took over a decade ago.
The side were looking down the barrel of relegation to the fourth tier, but they dodged the bullet and won the relegation playoff. Shortly after, they were promoted to the second division. Huesca were relegated not long after but remarkably, achieved two promotions in four years to enter La Liga for the first time ever.
Peton repeatedly says: “If you don’t understand this club, leave.”
Striker Alex Gallar understands the club as well as most, spent the majority of his career in the third and fourth tiers, but has had a Vardy-esque rise to the forefront of Spanish football, and scored a brace on Huesca’s opening day win against Eibar.
With little budget, Huesca have to rely on loan deals. Axel Werner represents a nice loan signing from Atletico Madrid, but the star man is Cucho Hernandez, on loan from Watford. The 19-year-old Colombian forward netted 16 goals last season in the promotion campaign and will be vital to the bid for survival.
Huesca won the hearts of social media with their last minute equaliser against Bilbao last weekend at San Mames – they are a romantic football story. Everyone loves a minnow, so the whole of the world that are not Barca fans will be rooting for the small side from Aragon in the Nou Camp on Sunday.
Should Huesca stay up, they will need a miracle. Sides like Eibar and Girona have showed it is possible, but the side with a 7500 capacity and a population smaller than the capacity of the Nou Camp, will need to show the fearless character they have in their opening games at Eibar and Athletic.