Although operating in the shadow of rival city giants FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol have been the 6th most successful football club in Spain. Founded in 1900, Espanyol became a founding member of LaLiga, and have completed the highest number of seasons in the top tier (85 times) without winning the title. Nevertheless, they have won the Copa del Rey four times, most recently in 2006, and finished as runners-up in the UEFA Cup in 1988 and 2007, losing only in a penalty shootout both times. The loss against Sevilla in the 2007 final in Glasgow also made Espanyol into the only football team to remain unbeaten yet not win the trophy in the tournament’s history. Recent milestones include the club moving to their new home, the 40,000 RCDE Stadium outside Barcelona in 2009, and Chinese businessman Chen Yansheng taking over in 2016 by acquiring a 54% stake in the club.
In the Covid-hit 2019/20 season, Espanyol marched to the knockout stage of the Europa League only to be eliminated by Wolverhampton. However, the respectable international performance came at the expense of their LaLiga campaign, which ended in a shocking relegation – especially painful, as Espanyol spent massively in that season on strengthening the squad, splashing out more than a reported EUR 60m on new players, and also breaking their transfer record with EUR 22.5m spent on Benfica forward Raúl de Tomás. Finally, current manager Vicente Moreno brought back some organisation and led the team back to the 1st tier just after one year in the 2nd division. They are starting the new season without any major signing so far, hoping to see the rewards of the earlier investments in the squad.
Founded in 1916, RCD Mallorca made their debut participation in the Spanish top division in the 1960/61 season. The club had their best spell some 20 years ago: they reached a record 3rd place in LaLiga in 1999 and 2001, won the Copa del Rey in 2003, and finished runners-up in 1991 and 1998. In the 1998 Copa final, they lost only on penalties to Barcelona, and, as Barcelona won the league, the two sides met in the Supercopa de España, which Mallorca won, collecting their 1st major trophy. The next year they marched to the final of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the final staging of the tournament, where they lost to Italy’s Lazio. In the past decade, however, they spent six seasons in the 2nd division, and one in the 3rd tier.
Now they are returning to the top division after a 1-year absence, under the leadership of Luis Garcia, who has been managing the team since last August. Mallorca hopes to fill their 23,000-seat Visit Mallorca Stadium – the venue, previously known as the Son Moix Stadium, was renamed during the Covid-19 pandemic in an effort to reactivate tourism, the main source of income on the Balearic island.
The 3rd most successful club of the Spanish capital after Madrid’s giants, Real and Atlético, Rayo Vallecano was founded in 1924, and have been regarded one of the yo-yo clubs of Spanish football, vacillating between the 1st and 2nd tiers. Their longest spell in the top division was a 5-year campaign between 2011 and 2016. Now they will return to the top tier after two years. Their best record has been a 9th-place LaLiga finish in 1999/2000, and reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in the next season, when they lost to fellow Spanish club Alavés 4–2 on aggregate. Home games are held at Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas stadium.