Following on from this week's announcement that RCD Espanyol will provide the opposition for Derby's annual pre-season curtain-raiser at Pride Park, www.dcfc.co.uk takes a look back at some of the Rams' recent games against European opposition at Pride Park.

It all began in 1997, when Sampdoria were the first visitors to the brand-new stadium.

Barcelona have visited twice, Ajax and Lazio have also graced the Pride Park turf, along with the likes of RCD Majorca and Athletic Bilbao.

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Here's a potted recent history of those games.


1997
DERBY COUNTY 0 SAMPDORIA 1

This game wasn't so much about the opposition as the occasion.

After more than a hundred years at the Baseball Ground, Derby County were embarking on a new venture - a state-of-the art, purpose-built facility called Pride Park Stadium.

Some 50 great players from the club's past turned out to greet the 29,000-strong crowd before kick-off to usher in the new era.

The Serie A side carried with them German legend Jurgen Klinsmann, Italian hot-shot Vincenzo Montella, and a classy young Argentinian by the name of Juan Sebastien Veron.

Derby included two Italians of their own, midfielder Stefano Eranio from AC Milan and striker Francesco Baiano from Fiorentina.

It was their fellow countryman Montella who christened the back of the new stadium's net, a stunning strike just before the hour-mark, but that didn't matter.

What mattered was the new stadium, the new dawn, and many memories still to come.

Derby: Poom, Laursen (Flynn 87), Stimac (Yates 87), Dailly, Eranio (Rowett 77), van der Laan (Trollope 77), D Powell (Carsley 45), Asanovic (Hunt 45), C Powell, Ward (Carbon 62), Baiano (Simpson 67).
Other sub: Hoult.

Sampdoria: Ferron, Balleri, Mannini, Pesaresi, Laigle, Mihajlovic, Matute (Scarchilli 62), Veron (Francescetti 80), Boghossian, Klinsmann (Tovalieri 67), Montella (Salsano 82).
Other subs: Ambrosio, Hugo, Vergassola, Dichio, Dieng.


1998
DERBY COUNTY 1 BARCELONA 3

The giants of the Nou Camp were next up and showcased many of their star names.

Miguel Angel Nadal, Xavi, Luis Figo, Luis Enrique and Fernando Abelardo were among their starters in front of another bumper Pride Park crowd.

Figo and Enrique combined for the latter to open the scoring with an excellent volley, and by 20 minutes Barcelona were two-up through Oscar Garcia.

Paolo Wanchope pulled one back pretty quickly and Derby had a sniff of an equaliser on more than one occasion either side of half-time.

Barcelona star Dragan Ciric tries to escape the challenge of Stefan Schnoor in 1998. Empics
Barcelona star Dragan Ciric tries to escape the challenge of Stefan Schnoor in 1998. Empics

But Barcelona aren't one of the world's biggest teams for nothing and with an hour gone they called for the substitutes.

Rivaldo, Phillip Cocu, Boudewijn Zenden, all stars of the summer's World Cup and all about to set foot on the Pride Park turf.

Zenden's low cross was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Jacob Laursen but any night against Barcelona is to be savoured.

Derby: Poom, Delap (Kozluk 76), Schnoor, Carsley, Dailly (Burton 80), Laursen, Eranio (Rowett 37), Sturridge, Wanchope, Bohinen (Hunt 86), Powell.
Other subs: Hoult, Elliott, Carbonari, Bridge-Wilkinson.

Barcelona: Baia, Okunowo (Reiziger 60), Nadal, Abelardo, Roger Garcia, Xavi (Cocu 60), Figo, Ciric (Anderson 45), Luis Enrique (Giovanni 60), Oscar Garcia (Rivaldo 60), Jofre (Zenden 60).
Other subs: Ferron, Arnau, Oscar Alvarez, Mario, Babangida.


1999
DERBY COUNTY 0 CSKA MOSCOW 0

The main interest surrounding the visit of the Russians was whether Derby would have their big summer transfer target in place.

Argentinian striker Esteban Fuertes had been on Jim Smith's shopping list for many weeks but clearance still hadn't arrived.

One interesting inclusion however was Nordin Wooter, the dreadlocked Dutch winger enjoying a trial spell at the club.

Francesco Baiano turns away from Oleg Kornauhov of CSKA Moscow in the 1999 friendly. Empics
Francesco Baiano turns away from Oleg Kornauhov of CSKA Moscow in the 1999 friendly. Empics

There was also a home debut for £3m signing Seth Johnson, a first chance for the home fans to see the former Crewe Alexandra man in action.

Both sides had chances to have picked up the win but it was once again a worthwhile exercise.

Wooter didn't sign in the end and eventually pitched up at Watford, while the saga of Fuertes was eventually completed - but was just beginning.

Derby: Poom; Prior, Carbonari, Delap (Elliott 78), Borbokis, Eranio (Johnson 62), Powell, Schnoor (Dorigo 62); Baiano (Harper 78); Sturridge (Burton 6; Wooter 62), Beck.
Other sub: Hoult.

CSKA Moscow: Goncharov; Minko, Bokov, Pesic (Eusinov 84), Kornauhov, Homuha (Aksenov 46), Shishkim, Semak, Tsaplin (Novochenko 46); Kulik (Gutali 46), Philippenkov (Savelyev 46).


2000
DERBY COUNTY 1 ATHLETIC BILBAO

Spanish opposition returned to Pride Park but there was an Italian flavour as the Rams went in front.

Stefano Eranio slid home just after the half-hour after Branko Strupar had flicked on a cross from Danny Higginbotham, a summer arrival from Manchester United.

The young defender was joined by fellow new-boys Bjorn Otto Bragstad and Simo Valakari in the starting line-up, while Con Blatsis and Youl Mawene came on as substitutes.

Athletic Bilbao star Joseba Etxeberria in action at Pride Park in 2000. Empics
Athletic Bilbao star Joseba Etxeberria in action at Pride Park in 2000. Empics

But Ismael Urzaiz struck just before half-time and Julen Guerrero netted shortly after the interval to send the Spaniards home victorious.

Derby: Poom, Delap (Blatsis 81), Laursen (Mawene 66), Bragstad, Higginbotham (Schnoor 66), Eranio (Sturridge 46), Bohinen (Murray 46), Valakari, Johnson, Strupar, Burton (Morris).
Other subs: Oakes, Elliott.

Athletic Bilbao: Lafuente; Larrainzar, Rios, Vales (Karanka 65), Larrazabal, J Etxeberria (Merino 65), Urrutia (Gurendez 46), Orbaiz, Yeste (Exposito 81); Urzaiz (Gonzalez 65), Guerrero (Lasa 65).
Other subs: I Etxeberria, Del Horno, Imaz, Lacruz.


2001
DERBY COUNTY 0 BARCELONA 3

Pride Park was almost full to capacity as Rams fans clamoured for a first home glimpse of one of the biggest names in European football.

Fabrizio Ravanelli was pulling on the black and white of Derby County following a glittering career in Serie A and internationally with Italy.

But there was no sight of his famous shirt-over-the-head celebration as Barcelona, back for their second visit, turned on the style.

Patrick Kluivert scored twice inside the first six minutes as the Spanish giants opened explosively.

Geovanni made it three on the quarter-hour with Pride Park shell-shocked.

Ravanelli, Malcolm Christie and Giorgi Kinkladze all had chances but after such an opening it was impossible for Derby to recover.

Giorgi Kinkladze is trailed by Barcelona ace Frank De Boer in the 2001 friendly. Empics
Giorgi Kinkladze is trailed by Barcelona ace Frank De Boer in the 2001 friendly. Empics

There was a home debut for right-back Daniele Daino, signed on a season-long loan from AC Milan, while Stefano Eranio was back in Derby colours.

The popular Italian had left to a rousing send-off at the end of the previous season, but returned to sign a new one-year deal in the summer.

Barcelona, for their part, fielded another strong squad including Pepe Reina, Michael Reiziger, Phillipe Christanval, Fabio Rochemback and Patrick Kluivert, who would all end up in England and play in the Premier League.

Derby: Oakes, Riggott, Carbonari (Bragstad 14; Boertien HT), Mawene (Powell HT), Daino, Higginbotham, Burley, Johnson (Eranio HT; Murray 88), Kinkladze (Burton 73), Christie, Ravanelli.
Subs not used: Grant, Blatsis, O'Neil, Morris.

Barcelona: Bonano (Reina HT), Reiziger, Andersson (Marcelo 71), De Boer (Christanval HT), Sergi (Gabri HT), Rochemback (Roberto 66), Xavi, Cocu, Geovanni, Kluivert (Luis Enrique 46), Overmars.
Subs not used: Saviola, Carlos.


2002
DERBY COUNTY 1 LAZIO 2

Italian opposition returned to Pride Park as Derby prepared for life in Division One following relegation from the Premier League the previous season.

And John Gregory's side gave a very good account of themselves against a team packed with star names and one of the favourites for the Serie A title.

There were no new faces in the Rams' line-up but they were still hoping to tie down the signing of former Middlesbrough midfielder Robbie Mustoe, who came on for the final 15 minutes.

Adam Murray. Empics
Adam Murray. Empics

And it was one of their younger players, Adam Murray, who appeared to be taking his chance in the team well and scored the equaliser shortly before the hour.

Lazio, the former employers of Fabrizio Ravanelli, had taken the lead before half-time through Guerrino Gottardi.

And they won it with 18 to go through the in-demand Hernan Crespo, but on another night Derby could quite easily have got a result.

Derby: Poom, Jackson, Barton (Mawene 78), Higginbotham (Evatt 80), Boertien, Murray (Grenet 77), Bolder, Lee (Mustoe 77), Morris (Twigg 78), Ravanelli (Strupar 80), Christie (Tudgay 84).
Subs: Oakes, Elliott, Robinson.

Lazio: Marchegiani (Concetti 46), Oddo (Stam 57), Negro, Nesta (Couto 46), Pancaro (Stankovic 69), Gottardi (Baggio 57), Simeone (Liverani 57), Baronio (Fiore 57), Cesar, Crespo, Inzaghi (Lopez 57).
Other sub: Giannichedda.


2003
DERBY COUNTY 2 AJAX 2

Dutch giants Ajax provided the first of a 2003 double-header for George Burley's young side.

They took an early lead through Cedric Van der Gun but Derby showed plenty of character to battle back and come close to victory.

Experienced midfielder Ian Taylor, a recent arrival at the club following a distinguished spell with Aston Villa, equalised after the break.

Teenage Academy product Izale McLeod - who made his first-team breakthrough in 2002/03 - then put the Rams in front and although it was only a friendly, the scoreboard reading Derby 2 Ajax 1 looked good.

Adam Bolder gets away from Ajax player Tomas Galasek in 2003. Empics
Adam Bolder gets away from Ajax player Tomas Galasek in 2003. Empics

There were only three minutes remaining when substitute Nicolae Mitea equalised to ensure Ajax picked up a repeat scoreline following their 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest a few days previously.

Derby fans were given the chance to see Portugal U21 winger Candido Costa in action for the first time at Pride Park, after his season-long loan from Porto.

Another summer arrival, former Crewe Alexandra centre-half Dave Walton, appeared for eight minutes as a substitute.

And there were also outings for two highly-rated 16-year-olds - Nathan Doyle and Tom Huddlestone.

Huddlestone had made the bench in the autumn of 2002, still only 15 at the time.

Derby: Oakes (Grant 46), Mawene (Walton 82), Mills, Elliott (Morris 46), Jackson, Valakari, Taylor (Hunt 73), Bolder (Huddlestone 72), Zavagno, Costa (Doyle 59), McLeod (Twigg 81).

Ajax: Lobont, Grygera (Trabelsi 62), Yakubu (Bergdolmo 46), Escude, Van Damme, Pienaar, Galasek, Maxwell (Sneijder 62), Van der Gun (Mitea 62), Van der Vaart, Sonck.
Subs: Zwinkels, Pasnen, Litmanen, Obodai, Boukhari.


2003
DERBY COUNTY 3 REAL MALLORCA 1

The highly-rated former Real Madrid man Samuel Eto'o could only stand and watch as Derby's teenage ace Izale McLeod ran the Spaniards ragged at Pride Park.

Derby opened brightly and it was McLeod who struck first with a smart header, and he doubled the lead on 20 minutes from the penalty spot.

A hat-trick opportunity was not long in coming as the Rams were awarded a penalty and McLeod stepped forward, but saw his kick saved by Leo Franco.

Izale McLeod. Empics
Izale McLeod. Empics

But it was soon 3-0 as Peruvian striker Gianfranco Labarthe Tome, another 18-year-old and a recent signing for the Rams, bundled the ball home from close range.

Mallorca were the Spanish Cup holders but Derby were blowing them away, though Eto'o did pull one back late on.

Of further note for the Rams was the fact they finished the game with three 16-year-olds on the pitch.

Tom Huddlestone started in the centre of midfield and was outstanding, while Nathan Doyle and Lee Holmes also did themselves proud as second-half substitutes.

Derby: Oakes, Jackson (Barton 64), Mawene (Walton 71), Mills, Elliott, Hunt; Costa (Tome 11; Twigg 78), Huddlestone, Bolder (Murray 82), Morris (Holmes 71); McLeod (Doyle 63).
Other sub: Grant.

Real Mallorca: Franco, Cortes, Olaizola, Nino, Poli, Novo, Marcos, Campano (Raul Martin 46), Robles (Biagini 35), Gonzalez, Eto'o.
Subs: Alberto, Diaz, Nadal, Vicente, Pereda.