The Espanyol of the oxygen masks and the ‘tricks’ Barca

The Espanyol of the oxygen masks and the ‘tricks’ Barca
Spanish footballers with oxygen masks (Brand)

Last update September 28, 2020 by Javier Argudo

The Barcelona Spanish (today called RCD Espanyol) he has come close to proclaiming himself league champion on more than one occasion. But nevertheless, for one thing or another, the league title has been denied throughout history.

In the season 1952-1953, absolutely unstoppable season started. Directed from the bench by the Argentine Alejandro Scopelli, the parakeets razed all their rivals in the first matches and took the lead thanks to the seven victories achieved in the first seven dates.

On the day 12, the great game arrived. The Espanyol visited the Les Corts to face his greatest rival in town, the Barcelona. By then, the culés had lost Kubala, He was recovering from tuberculosis that kept him away from the playing fields. The visitors came to the clash undefeated with a total of 9 victories and 2 draws. Meanwhile, the Barcelona, occupied fourth place and had his rival to 6 distance points. That was a good Barça, reigning League and Cup champion.


A few weeks before, the secret had been released ‘’ of the Spanish by Scopelli. Photos published in the national press showed players parakeets wearing oxygen masks, something very rare at that time especially in professional athletes. Argentine coach, far from hiding it, He stated that it was something very normal in his country of origin and that, also, there was nothing illegal.

The Barcelona derby paralyzed the city. There was no talk of anything else and fans of both teams filled to the brim the Barça stadium. In fact, According to chronicles of the time, there were more people than I probably should have.

The RCD Espanyol started very well and went ahead on the scoreboard in the minute 17 work of Mauri. The away goal caused an avalanche in one of the funds and many fans were forced to invade the field of play. Later it became known that there was even a deceased, something that was silenced by the media. After a few minutes, the civil governor, who was in the stadium, decided that part of the public would watch the match sitting on the grass itself.

Les Corts
Fans at grass level in Camp de Les Corts (Somatemps)

The decision did not like the Spanish team that protested the referee of the meeting which, far from attending to complaints, forced the Espanyol to continue facing the threat of losing the game if they refused to play in such circumstances. With the 0-1 It came to rest.


It was then that the boys of Scopelli they found a new surprise. In his locker room there was a significant amount of smoke since several towels had been burned. Because of this, They could not carry out their ritual with the oxygen masks and returned to the field of play to play the second part..

The Barça managed to equalize a few minutes after the restart with a goal of Hanke and wrote down the 2-1 definitive shortly before the end of the meeting through Moreno. The victory was highly celebrated, like is logic, For the fans, who crowded the stands of Les Corts.

The defeat was a very hard stick for him Espanyol what, since then and until the end of that League, lost others 9 more matches. The parakeet team finished in fourth position and the Barça revalidated the league title.

That ‘trick’ (always denied by the Barcelona side) took a toll on the relationship of both clubs. It is said that for a few years, both went to the rival's stadium already dressed in shorts and tracksuits and that, as soon as the meeting is over, they got on the bus to shower at home.

Regarding oxygen masks, the Espanyol little by little he stopped using them and it was shown that it was rather a placebo effect that, yes, It worked very well until that historic derby played in Les Corts a 12 from December to 1952.

Christian Fuentes

Sports journalist. I write about yesterday's football so that tomorrow it won't be forgotten. Can you follow me on twitter: @cfamaral

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