It’s top versus bottom in this Catalan derby as Espanyol and Barcelona return from the winter break on Saturday night. The visitors have a two-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, as Ernesto Valverde’s men begin the new year in search of a hat-trick of titles.
Where and when: RCDE Stadium – 4 January, kick-off 20:00
Where you can see Espanyol vs. Barcelona: Premier Sports
Last time: Lionel Messi hit a late brace as Barcelona beat Espanyol 2-0 at the Nou Camp at the end of March.
Espanyol v Barcelona Predictions and Preview
Barcelona head across the city in search of yet another victory over their local rivals. The league leaders haven’t lost to Los Blanquiazules in La Liga since February 2009, while you have to go back another two years since Espanyol won the derby on home soil.
Barca returned to winning ways just before the winter break, following back-to-back draws which included a 0-0 against Real Madrid in El Clasico. The Blaugrana have been much more ruthless against Espanyol in recent seasons, netting 31 goals in their last 10 league matches against Los Periquitos.
After winning 16 of the last 20 meetings between the clubs in La Liga, and with a well-rested squad following the annual hiatus, Barca are primed to extend their winning run against Espanyol. Especially when you consider the home team have only won twice in the league all season, with the most recent of those victories coming in October.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
Barcelona to win to nil
Barcelona to win 3-0
Messi to score first
Espanyol head coach Abelardo must also do without Estaban Granero due to suspension, while Matias Vargas, Sebastien Corchia and Victor Sanchez are also expected to miss the game through injury. The visitors meanwhile will be able to call on exciting youngster Ansu Fati following a hip issue, although Ousmane Dembele, Sergi Roberto and Arthur could all miss out.
Even if all of those players are unavailable, Barcelona will expect to collect the full three points from this match. The champions have only lost one of their last 13 games in the league, a 3-1 defeat away to Levante, only failing to score in El Clasico during that run of games.
It’s very difficult to look past the away win this weekend, which is priced at 10/21 in the betting. Espanyol are available at 6/1, while you can back the draw at 19/5. With all things considered, a convincing Barcelona win looks the most likely route to some profit on your weekend bet slip.
One to watch for Espanyol: Wu Lei has only managed one La Liga goal so far this season from 10 starts and five substitute appearances. However, the Chinese international bagged a brace in Espanyol’s Copa del Rey victory over Lleida Esportiu just before the winter break, and is 11/1 to open the scoring here.
One to watch for Barcelona: Lionel Messi enjoyed a stunning end to 2019, helping himself to 17 goals in 16 games for clubs and country to close out the year. The Argentine was also crowned the world’s best player in the midst of that run, and is the 5/2 favourite to break the deadlock on Saturday.
Long shot: The last time Espanyol savoured the sweet taste of victory over their local rivals came courtesy of a 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp almost 11 years ago. Los Blanquiazules are 20/1 to win by the same scoreline this weekend.