Barcelona face a trip to local rivals Espanyol in La Liga on Saturday, as they look to extend their lead at the top of the table.
The Blaugrana beat Villarreal 2-0 last week at the Camp Nou, ending a run of two games without a victory in the league. Despite sitting top of La Liga after 14 games, Ernesto Valverde’s side have only shown glimpses of their scintillating best.
After such a promising start to the season, Espanyol have lost their last three games in La Liga and head into the Catalan derby this weekend in dismal form. The Periquitos are currently seventh in La Liga, but could move into the top four with a victory over their city rivals.
With both sides keen to claim the bragging rights in what is always a fiercely contested derby, Saturday’s match is set to be a thrilling affair.
Check out 90min’s preview for the game below.
How to Watch
|?When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 8th December?|
|?What Time Is Kick Off?||?19:45 (BST)|
|?Where Is It Being Played?||?RCDE Stadium|
|?TV Channel/Live Stream?||?Eleven Sports|
|?Referee?||?Carlos del Cerro Grande|
?Barcelona will be without a whole host of players on Saturday as their injury problems continue to mount up. Defender ?Samuel Umtiti has suffered a setback to his recovery from a recurring knee injury, whilst Sergi Roberto is not expected to feature until January for the Catalan side.
Midfielder Malcom has also been ruled out of the game due to a sprained ankle, joining fellow Brazilian Rafinha, who ?will miss the rest of the season due to ligament damage, on the sidelines.
?Luis Suarez could make his return to the starting lineup for Barcelona having missed last week’s game win over Villarreal, while summer signing Arthur may also feature.
Espanyol striker Sergio Garcia is not expected to feature at the weekend as he continues his rehabilitation from a muscular injury suffered in November against Girona. Central defender Naldo is also a doubt for the derby clash with Barcelona with a hamstring problem.
Borja Iglesias is expected to lead the line for the Periquitos having scored eight times already this season whilst fellow striker Leo Baptistao may also feature.
|?Espanyol||Lopez; Vila, Hermoso, Duarte, Lopez; Darder, Granero, Perez, Piatti;
|?Barcelona||?Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Vidal;
Messi, Suarez, Coutinho.
Head to Head Recor
Espanyol and Barcelona played each other four times last season, twice in La Liga and twice in the Copa Del Rey.
The Blaugrana hammered their city rivals 5-0 at the Camp Nou in their first meeting of the year, with Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick for the hosts.
Espanyol got their revenge in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey quarter final, winning 1-0 thanks to a last minute winner from Oscar Melendo.
In the return leg however, the Periquitos were eliminated as goals from Messi and Suarez secured a 2-0 victory for Barcelona.
In the final clash of the season, Espanyol looked to be heading for a famous victory over their then unbeaten rivals, yet a late equaliser from Gerard Pique made sure that both sides would have to share the points.
Barcelona lead the overall head to head record having won 121 matches whilst Espanyol have only been victorious on 44 occasions.
Barcelona have experienced a mixed set of results in recent weeks, winning three of their last five games in La Liga.
After thrashing ?Real Madrid 5-1 at the end of October, Valverde’s men were unconvincing in an away win at strugglers Rayo Vallecano before deservedly losing 4-3 at home to Real Betis.
Despite drawing 1-1 away at Atletico Madrid and beating Villarreal last week, Barca are still yet to replicate their impressive Champions League form in the league and have conceded an alarming number of goals this season already.
Meanwhile, Espanyol have been experiencing an awful run of form in La Liga, losing their last three games in the league.
A poor performance away at Getafe last week saw manager Rubi’s side lose 3-0 whilst they only just sneaked through to the next round of the Copa Del Rey against Segunda side Cadiz on Tuesday.
Despite this bad run, Espanyol will still be confident of scoring against a Barcelona side who have only kept three clean sheets this season in the League.
Here is how each team have performed in their last five matches:
|?Getafe 3-0 Espanyol (01/12)||?Barcelona 2-0 Villarreal (02/12)|
|Espanyol 1-3 Girona (25/11)||Atletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (24/11)|
|?Sevilla 2-1 Espanyol (11/11)||?Barcelona 3-4 Real Betis (11/11)|
|?Espanyol 1-0 Athletic Bilbao (05/11)||?Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Barcelona (03/11)|
|?Real Valladolid 1-1 Espanyol (26/10)||?Barcelona 5-1 Real Madrid (28/10)|
The Catalan derby is one of the most hotly contested rivalries in Spain with Espanyol and Barcelona fans urging their sides to win at all costs. Neither side have a particularly good defensive record this season with the Blaugrana conceding 19 goals this season and the Periquitos letting in 16, so we should expect goals at the RCDE Stadium.
With Espanyol experiencing a slump in form in recent games, it is hard to see them being able to stop Barcelona at the weekend who should be able to outscore their city rivals with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez upfront.
Although the game will be tight, Barcelona will be too strong for Espanyol on Saturday and should secure all three points.
Prediction: Espanyol 1-3 Barcelona