Barcelona vs Espanyol: The Last Catalan Derby in the Top Flight
The Catalan derby normally offers some surprise and high tension during the game. Unfortunately, this derby’s edition is not such. It is merely a clash of formality. For Espanyol, which are still stuck down there with only twenty four points, the relegation pit is closer than the line of safety. With only four games left and thirteen-point gap from Eibar on the seventeenth, it is very unlikely for Paco Rufete’s men to survive this season. Four victories in a row is not sufficient without the four losses from their contenders above them, Leganes, Mallorca, Eibar, Celta Vigo and Alaves. For Messi and Co, despite their slim chance to catch up for their archrival, La Liga title is seemingly out of their hands now.
Barcelona finally secured a win last weekend after two consecutive winless results. They thrashed Villareal 4-1. Pau Torres’s own goal gave them the lead before the host equalised by Gerardo Moreno’s strike. However, the second half all belonged to Setien’s men as they scored three times by Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and their promising youngster, Ansu Fati.
Their local counterpart slumped to another defeat while hosting Eibar. Diego Lopez and Co had been knocking on the doors of their opponent’s defense but the issues on finishing touch still remains. Espanyol lacks of form on such. No wonder that they eventually lost 0-1as Jonathan Silva bagged a winning goal for Eibar.
Missing players and probable lineups
Quique Setien seems to find the best formation for his team now. In his 4-3-1-2, Griezmann and Luis Suarez or Ansu Fati can shine with Messi behind them. The Messiah might not score as many as before but provide the most assist in La Liga this season. Unfortunately, Samuel Umtiti will not be joining them in the starting IX. He will be sidelined alongside Junior Firpo, Frankie De Jong and Ousmane Dembele. Such will not be an issue as Setien might take the remaining games as a preparation for Champions League next month. So, some young players are likely to be in the line up.
Barcelona: Marc Ter-Stegen; Gerard Pique, Ronald Araujo, Nelson Semedo, Sergi Roberto; Riqui Puig, Arturo Vidal, Oriol Busquets; Lionel Messi; Ansu Fati, Antoine Griezmann.
The former Valencia man back in early 2000s might employ 4-4-2 again just like last week but without Jonathan Calleri. He has to sit out during this upcoming derby due to being suspended. Wu Lei and Raul de Tomas will be the main option upfront.
Espanyol: Diego Lopez; Adria Pedrosa, Sebastian Corchia, Fernando Calero, Naldo; Javi Lopez, David Lopez, Matias Vargas, Adrian Embarba; Raul de Tomas, Wu Lei.
El Barca definitely has much better head-to-head record. The Catalan side has won four times and had a draw twice in their last six encounters. It may reflect the possible result of this fixture.
It is certainly a one-sided game for the home side. Unlike their last meeting, which ended in a draw and practically disrupted Blaugrana’s campaign to defend the title, this one has no significance for both teams. The only notable fact about this outing is that this is the last Catalan derby in the top flight since the visitor’s promotion in 1994/95 season.
Where to watch
International TV channels:
FuboTV, BeIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA), C More Play (Sweden), TV2 Play (Denmark), DIGI GO, Digi Sport (Cze), BeIN Sports CONNECT (Fra), DAZN (Ita, Ger, Aut, Jpn). Strive Sport (Nor), Premier Players HD, Premier Sports (UK, Ire), Eleven Sports 1 (Por).
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