Barcelona hosts next-door neighbours Espanyol in a La Liga fixture this week and the will look to put more pressure on Real Madrid at the top of the table. Barcelona is riding high on confidence after an emphatic victory against Villarreal and will be relishing the prospect of battering its bitter rivals from across the city this Wednesday.
Barcelona's performance at Villarreal was a statement of intent from the Catalan superstars. The Blaugrana reduced the gap at the top of the table to 4 points and while it may indeed be a little too late to mount a serious title challenge, Barcelona has forced Real Madrid to be wary of the crown that sits on its head.
Espanyol has been in miserable form this season and will be relegated to the Segunda division if the side fails to beat Barcelona. On current form, Espanyol does not stand a chance against a resurgent Barcelona side and will find this fixture a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
Barcelona will have to win all its remaining games in this La Liga season and hope for a few favours from the likes of Villarreal and Granada to stand a chance of retaining the title. The Catalans will back themselves against Espanyol and should use their home advantage to pick up an easy win.
Barcelona v Espanyol Head-to-Head
Barcelona has been the most dominant side in Catalan history and has a massive head-to-head advantage over Espanyol. The two neighbours have played a total of 37 La Liga games in their history with Barcelona winning an incredible 25 fixtures. Nine matches have ended in a stalemate.
Barcelona scores an average of 2.2 goals per game against Espanyol and has displayed a ruthless streak against its rivals in the past. Espanyol, however, is perfectly capable of digging deep and causing an upset.
Barcelona dropped crucial points in the reverse fixture as Espanyol snatched a late goal to hold the Catalan giants to a 2-2 draw in Barcelona's first La Liga match of the year. While Espanyol can be a tricky customer, the side has hit rock-bottom in recent weeks and is unlikely to make life difficult for Barcelona.
Luis Suarez scored and assisted in that match and also bagged a stunner over the weekend against Villarreal. The Uruguayan enjoys playing against Espanyol and will look forward to this encounter.
Barcelona form guide: D-W-D-D-W
Espanyol form guide: L-L-L-L-L
Also Read: Who has won the most La Liga titles?
Barcelona v Espanyol Team News
The injury list continues to grow for Barcelona. In addition to Ousmane Dembele who is ruled out for the La Liga season, Barcelona will also have to do without Samuel Umtiti, Frenkie de Jong, and Junior Firpo against Espanyol.
Clement Lenglet will continue his partnership with Gerard Pique in the heart of Barcelona's defence and Junior Firpo's absence means that Jordi Alba is sure to find a place in the starting eleven.
The trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Antoine Griezmann clicked for the first time against Villarreal and Quique Setien will be tempted to give his attacking superstars another. Ansu Fati will probably come on as a second-half substitute and look to build on his impressive run of form.
Injuries: Ousmane Dembele, Frenkie de Jong, Junior Firpo, Samuel Umtiti
Suspensions: Sergio Busquets
Barcelona v Espanyol Predicted XI
Barcelona Predicted XI (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Riqui Puig; Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez
Espanyol Predicted XI (4-4-2): Diego Lopez; Didac Vila, Leandro Cabrera, Bernardo Espinosa, Victor Gomez; Marc Roca, David Lopez, Darder, Lei Wu; Adri Embarba, Raul de Tomas
Barcelona v Espanyol Prediction
Espanyol's battered stars are playing for their lives in La Liga and may go for the jugular against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. As Villarreal found out on its own ground over the weekend, leaving open spaces for the likes of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to exploit is far from a tactical masterclass.
Barcelona will look to dictate play throughout the match and can use the Camp Nou's larger dimensions to stretch the pitch. Quique Setien's experiment with a new formation worked wonders against Villarreal and for the first time in over three years, Barcelona seems to have a plan B in place.
Espanyol is currently in 20th place in the La Liga table and will struggle to deal with Barcelona's dynamism. Against Villarreal, Barcelona played with complete freedom for the first time since the La Liga restart and will look to plunder the Espanyol goal to fire warning shots at the top of the table.
Prediction - Barcelona 4-0 Espanyol