The Catalan Derby Preview : FC Barcelona v/s Espanyol

It’s a new reign in Barcelona and Nou Camp as Xavi Hernandez will be back on the field for the first time after more than 2300 days away, but this time, he will return as the Coach. His first coaching test for Barcelona will be a stern opponent in the form of Espanyol, the local rivals in Matchday 14 of the La Liga Santander. Barcelona sits ninth in the La Liga table at the moment, 10 points adrift of Real Madrid in 2nd and 6 points of Atletico Madrid in 4th, with their opponents level on points with them. They’ve conceded more than Espanyol and Rayo Vallecano and it shows that Barcelona and Xavi Hernandez have a lot of work to do.

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Espanyol has been pretty solid since returning back to La Liga having already defeated Real Madrid. Vicente Moreno’s side has shown their quality this season and they’ll be looking to decimate their cross-town neighbors and grab a league victory at the Nou Camp for the first time since 2009.

F.C. BARCELONA VS ESPANYOL – STATS

  1. Barcelona haven’t faced a defeat in their previous 22 games against Espanyol in La Liga – W 17, D 5. This is their longest unbeaten streak against their cross town neighbors in the competition.
  2. Barcelona have won their last 11 meetings at home against Espanyol in La Liga after they won just one from five (D3, L1) since they were defeated 2 – 1 at home in February 2009.
  3. Espanyol have drawn the most number of games against Barcelona – 38, more than they have against any other side in the history of the competition.
  4. This season’s points tally is the 2nd lowest of F.C. Barcelona after 12 games in the 21st century (W 4 D 5 L 3). The lowest came in 2002 / 03 season – W 4 D 4 L 4.
  5. Espanyol have three victories from their last six games in La Liga (D 2 L 1) which is equal to their victories in the previous 25 games. (W 3 D8 L 25)

F.C. BARCELONA VS ESPANYOL – TEAM NEWS

Barcelona

Xavi will be without the services of Ansu Fati, Martin Brathwaite, and Sergio Aguero as they are out for this clash. Dani Alves, who made a return to the Barcelona Dugout is ineligible for selection until January. Sergino Dest, Nico Gonzalez, and Ousmane Dembele are a doubt for the fixture because of the knocks they’ve suffered. This means that Xavi will miss his entire attack barring only Memphis Depay and Luuk De Jong. Xavi might look up to some Barcelona B attackers like Akhomach, Abde, and Ferran Jutgla for the game.

Predicted Lineup

Formation : 4-3-3

GK: Marc Andre Ter Stegen

Defense: Sergi Roberto, Ronald Araujo, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba

Midfield: Frenkie De Jong, Sergio Busquets, Ricard Puig

Attack: Phillippe Coutinho, Memphis Depay, Pablo Gavi

Managers Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona) and Vicente Moreno (Espanyol)
Managers Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona) and Vicente Moreno (Espanyol)

Espanyol

Vicente Moreno will miss the services of right-back Oscar Gil who is sidelined with an injury issue, while Keidi Bare, Wu Lei, and Miquelon are doubts for the fixture.

Predicted Lineup  

Formation : 4-2-3-1

GK: Diego Lopez

Defense:  Alex Vidal , Sergi Gomez , Leandro Cabrera ,Adria Pedrosa

CDM: Manu Morlanes , Sergi Darder

Attack: Adri Embarba , Oscar Melendo , Nico Melamed

ST: Raul De Tomas

Head-to-Head

Barcelona and Espanyol played so far 58 matches. Barcelona won 35 direct matches. Espanyol won 6 matches. 17 matches ended in a draw. On average in direct matches, both teams scored 2.52 goals per Match.

The last meet between Barca and Espanyol was a must-win for both teams. Barcelona won the match 1-0 with the goal scored by Suarez, the match also had 2 sent-offs.

Players to watch out for

Barcelona

Memphis Depay

The Dutch forward has well lived up to his epithet of being a prolific goalscorer since joining Barca in the summer transfer window. He is one of the few bright positive sides in a Blaugrana team that is languishing 9th in the table. Depay has registered 6 goals and 2 assists in 16 start for his side. On his day, Depay can destroy any defense with his superior physicality and on-field dribbling qualities. As a new era is ushering at Barca under Xavi, Depay would look forward to having a good game against Espanyol.

De Jong and Depay (Barca)
De Jong and Depay (Barca)

 Frenkie De Jong

Another Dutch international, Frenkie De Jong, is a player who has performed for Barca week in and week out. He has been so consistent for the Catalonian side that the whole team now almost depends on his performances. He is the undisputed king of Barca’s midfield who maintains a perfect balance between attack and defense. Barca’s heartthrob, De Jong amazes the viewers with his wonderful passing qualities as well as ball distribution. Tipped as the next “Xavi” by many fans, DeJong will look to impress the new boss by producing a match-winning show.

Espanyol

Raul de Tomas 

The Castilla graduate and former Real Madrid man is in the form of his life since the start of the new season. He started last time when Espanyol stunned Madrid 2-1. No wonder he is a fox-in-the-box and is excellent aerially as well as physically.  He has found the back of the net 7 times in only 12 matches and assisted 2 times. He will once again be the main man for Vicente Moreno if they are to do something good against Barca.

Alex Vidal Raul de Thomas (Espanyol)
Alex Vidal Raul de Thomas (Espanyol)

 Alex Vidal

The former Barca man is one of the most dangerous men in the Espanyol lineup. He has the ability to make runs down the wing and put in pinpoint crosses in the box, which has enough poison to sting a shaky Barca defense. Besides, he is compact while defending and maintains his work rate well between attack and defense. Certainly, he would be eager to prove himself against his former team by producing a solid show on board.

Conclusion

 In all respects, this match is going to be an enthralling and bewitching one for the fans. Club football is returning after a two-week break and what do you need more if you have the Catalonian derby on the cards. Both sides are on the same points on the table, and both are desperate in search of a win. This game is undoubtedly going to produce end-to-end entertaining action from the two teams. Expect a fierce and free-scoring encounter to unfold at Camp Nou tonight. Can Xavi’s return to Barcelona for the second time as the manager prove out to be a sweet one or will it be a tough outing for Culers’ favorite man!! Tune into the match from 00:30 to know everything.

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