Barcelona make the short trip across town to face Espanyol on Sunday, as they look to tick off what could be a tricky game. The Periquitos haven’t beaten Barca in La Liga in their last 17 attempts, but they were victorious in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie just a couple of weeks ago.
Where and when: Cornella-El Prat – 4 February, kick-off 15:15
Where you can see Espanyol vs. Barcelona: Sky Sports, William Hill live streaming
Last time: Barcelona knocked Espanyol out of the Copa del Rey last week thanks to a 2-0 win in the second leg, while Lionel Messi bagged a hat-trick in a 5-0 victory for the Blaugrana in September’s La Liga encounter.
Espanyol v Barcelona Predictions and Preview
If Barcelona can continue their impressive La Liga run against Espanyol at the weekend, it’d be a big result for Ernesto Valverde’s side. Below them in the table, third placed Valenica visit Atletico Madrid on Sunday evening, and if Diego Simeone’s side drop points then a 13 or 14 point lead for Barca would surely be insurmountable with just 16 games remaining.
Barca are in decent form since the winter break, winning all four of their league fixtures and scoring 14 goals in the process. They’ve had to rely on the genius of Messi on occasion in both the league and cup, and the magical No.10 has duly obliged.
New signing Philippe Coutinho made his full debut for the club in playing 65 minutes last weekend, and he’s in line to start again in this one. The man he replaced as Barca’s record signing, Ousmane Dembele, is expected to miss another couple of weeks after his setback in recovering from a hamstring injury.
With so much attacking talent to choose from, Valverde would be wise not to rush Dembele back. Even without the 20-year-old Frenchman, Barcelona start this game as 1/3 favourites in the betting. Espanyol are priced at 21/2 to record a win that would solidify their mid-table position, while the draw’s available at 19/4.
In the last four La Liga meetings between these two Catalonian rivals, Barca have scored 17 goals in winning each of the games. Espanyol have managed just one goal in those matches, and a Barcelona to win to nil bet is 6/5. If the hosts can keep Messi and co out like they a couple of weeks back, another 1-0 win for Quique Sanchez Flores’ side is priced at 28/1.
One to watch for Espanyol: Gerard Moreno is the Blanquiazules’ top scorer with eight goals to his name in the league this term. The Spanish forward is 12/1 to bag the first of the game, and 29/10 to score anytime.
One to watch for Barcelona: Messi has netted 15 goals in his last 11 La Liga appearances against Espanyol, and has 20 in 21 for the season in the league alone. He’s 12/5 to break the deadlock and 7/11 to score anytime.
Long shot: With Espanyol reserving a bitter dislike of their much-celebrated neighbours, the home crowd could inspire them into an early lead. Barca would still fancy their chances of a comeback if they have enough time though, and are 8/1 to win from behind.