On This Day - 2001 - Derby County host Barcelona

Derby's manager Nigel Pearson

On 10 August 2001, Derby County welcomed the likes of Patrick Kluivert and Marc Overmars to the Midlands for a pre-season friendly with Barcelona.

Derby's manager Nigel PearsonDerby manager Nigel Pearson will be looking to return Barcelona to the club's fixture list

This was the Catalan giants' second trip to the iPro (or Pride Park as it was still known then), having also made the trek over three years' earlier for an early season blow-out, which County went on to lose 3-1.

The Derby side that day contained new signing Fabrizio Ravanelli, Danny Higginbotham and former-Manchester City cult hero Georgi Kinkladze, while Barcelona had Fabio Rochemback, Frank de Boer, Kluivert and Overmars in their side.

The tie was all but over after 16 minutes as Barca sped into a three-goal lead including two goals from the boot of Netherlands striker Kluivert - a lead that would stay the same for the rest of the match.

Patrick Kluivert inside the stadium before the gamePatrick Kluivert, now a pundit, was capped 79 times by the Netherlands

In the 15 years that have passed since the clash, the two sides have travelled on slightly different trajectories. 

The Rams, fresh from a relegation scrap the season before, ended 2002 in 19th place. They toyed with relegation from the old First Division, coming 18th and 20th in the next two seasons, before returning to the Premier League for 2007/8.

It was to prove something of an annus horribilis for Derby, as they won a solitary game and ended the season with just 11 points - the lowest points total in Premier League history.

They have been a Championship club ever since, toying with further relegation again before starting to challenge for promotion back to the top flight in recent years, despite an ever-revolving door of managers that has seen Steve McClaren, Paul Clement, Darren Wassall and Nigel Pearson in charge since 2013.

Derby County manager Paul Clement.Paul Clement was sacked midway through the 2015/16 season

At the time, Barcelona were going through something of a fallow spell. Having won La Liga twice in the late '90s, they were to finish no higher than 4th between 2000 and 2003.

However, since 2004/5 the club has gone on to win La Liga no fewer than eight times, and lift the Champions League trophy on four occasions.

Eto'o scoring for Barcelona against Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League finalSamuel Eto'o helped Barca to beat Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final

While there was sadly no return fixture at Camp Nou, the Rams can at least look forward to Saturday's away fixture at Barnsley as they look to build on an opening-day draw against Brighton, and possibly gain promotion back to the top flight of English football. 

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