Runaway league leaders Barcelona travel to the RCDE Stadium to face off against their cross-town rivals Espanyol. The two Catalan sides meet for the fourth time this campaign as their last meeting was in the Copa Del Rey quarterfinals back in January.
The kick-off time is 15:15 GMT and Jesus Gil will be the referee for the match.
Recently, less than ten days ago, the two sides face each other in the quarterfinals of the Spanish cup with the teams battling for a spot in the semifinals. The result from the first leg shocked everyone as minnows Espanyol were able to please fans with a 1-0 victory.
But the joy of the first leg win was smashed in the second leg when Barcelona, in their own turf, went through as semi-finalist after winning the match 2-0 and 2-1 on aggregate.
The White and the Blues are the hosts for the match as they look to return to winning ways after losing the game against Leganes. Espanyol were unfortunate to concede two own goals from Mario Hermoso that subsequently became the source of their downfall. The Spaniard did pull own back of the side to salvage some pride, but it was too late from the defender who scored from a weak punch from the keeper.
Espanyol has six wins, and nine defeats to their name and as a result are fourteenth in league with only 24 points so far.
Unlike their fellow Catalans, Espanyol have an abysmal goalscoring record, netting only 18 in the process. Their defensive performance is the third best among teams in the bottom half of the table.
Free-scoring Barcelona are the league leaders in the Liga Santander sitting comfortably at the top with an eleven point gap from second-placed Atletico Madrid and nineteen points ahead of their rivals Real Madrid.
It will be foolish not to assume Barcelona ending the season with the title and they can be able to set a new record in the league, finishing the campaign with no losses.
Ernesto Valverde’s management has revitalized the Blaugranas, whose form has blossomed under the Spaniard. Unsurprisingly, the Catalans have scored the most goals in league with 59 and also hold the second best defensive record letting in only 0.476 goals per game.
The strike partnership of Lionel Messi and Suarez is as deadly as it used to be with the pair being directly involved in 51 goal contributions between them. The Argentine leads the goal scoring chart in La Liga with the 20 goals with the Uruguayan not far behind with 16.
The home side has 5 out of their six wins at their own stadium which is a confidence booster. The most recent visit from Barcelona ended 1-0 in favor of Espanyol, which is a record always valuable against big clubs.
Barcelona adapt to away conditions very quickly which is highlighted by the fact that they have nine wins and two draws in 11 away games this season.
Quique Sanchez Flores has all of his first-team players available for selection. The only player doubtful is Pablo Piatti. The Argentine suffered a slight muscular injury and hasn’t featured since the first leg win in the quarterfinals.
The man in form is Gerard Moreno who has eight goals to his name in the league. Leo Baptistao has also chipped in with three goals and three assists.
Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Vermaelen are still out because of muscular problems that have kept them out of action for 13 matches between them. Both are expected to return in February.
Messi & Co. are in fine form in front of goal as well as in the defense. They have an astounding +49 goal difference in the league.
Head to Head
Since 2010, there have been 16 meetings between Espanyol and Barcelona, and unsurprisingly Barcelona are the unmatched kings of Catalonia. Among those 16 matches, Barcelona has been victorious 13 times and hasn’t lost to Espanyol scoring three or more on eight occasions.
Earlier this season, Barcelona dispatched Espanyol 5-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Lionel Messi.
Espanyol vs Barcelona Lineup (Possible XI)
Marc Navarro – Duarte – Hermoso – Aaron Martin
Victor Sanchez – David Lopez – Granero
Semedo – Pique – Umtiti – Alba
Iniesta – Paulinho – Busquets – Coutinho
Espanyol vs Barcelona Prediction
The Blaugrana are the clear favorites for the game, and the match should finish with the hand full of goals when we consider previous meetings between the teams. Barcelona hasn’t dropped points in seven straight league games and shouldn’t lose any in this match also.
Our Prediction: Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona.