LaLiga: Espanyol vs Barcelona preview


The 209th edition of the Barcelonian Derby will take place on Saturday evening, when Espanyol host the more illustrious local rivals Barcelona at RCDE Stadium. Last season Espanyol secured a 1-1 draw in this fixture and even had the lead before Gerard Pique scored the equalizer, while the reverse match was won by Barcelona 5-0 with goals from Pique and Luiz Suarez and a hat-trick from Lionel Messi. The two rivals also met in the Spanish Cup last season and Espanyol won the first leg 1-0 before losing qualification due to a 2-0 defeat in the second. Overall, Barcelona have won the derby 121 times, while Espanyol have collected 44 victories.

Espanyol had a pretty good season so far, but the recent weeks have been quite tough for them. They have lost their last three league matches after having recorded just two defeats in the previous eleven matches and dropped to eighth place in the league table, tied on 21 points with Levante and Girona. Last week they lost 3-0 at Getafe in LaLiga and this week's 1-0 victory over lower-league Cadiz did little to improve their confidence. However, the have lost just one of their six home matches in LaLiga this season and won the other five. Sergio Garcia and Naldo are the only injury concerns for the home side ahead of the derby.

Barcelona have returned to the top of the league table last weekend, they defeated Villarreal 2-0 while former leaders Sevilla got held to a 1-1 draw at Alaves. However, the Blaugrana don't look as strong as they have been in recent seasons, they have already lost two league matches and last season they only suffered one defeat throughout the whole campaign. This week Barcelona won 4-1 against Leonesa in the Copa del Rey, even though all the big stars were rested. Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Malcom are injured, but Luis Suarez and Arthur should be able to recover from their recent knocks.

Probable line-ups:

Espanyol: Diego Lopez - J. Lopez, David Lopez, Hermoso, Vila - Darder, Roca, Granero - Perez, Iglesias, Piatti

Barcelona: Ter Stegen - Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba - Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal - Messi, Suarez, Coutinho

My prediction: Barcelona to win 3-2, the Blaugrana are stronger but Espanyol should be able to cause them more than a few headaches.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Espanyol win - 6.50
Draw - 4.33
Barcelona win - 1.50

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