It’s derby time again! On Sunday at 21:00 CET, FC Barcelona will make the short road trip to take on RCD Espanyol.
Barca will look to continue their rapidly improving form under Xavi Hernandezwhich started with a 1-0 victory precisely against their local rivals in his first match in charge and culminated in a fabulous 4-2 victory over Atlético Madrid seven days ago.
There’s been a Blaugrana charge in the league table, and last week they finally broke into the top four spots. Now is the time to aim even higher in a week that also includes the team’s Europa League debut against Napoli on Thursday (TICKETS HERE).
the RCDE Stadium is always a big challenge. Home fans don’t particularly like their neighbors, and the budgies always raise their level of play for the day of the derby. But Barca have coped with the pressure brilliantly in recent years and are yet to lose a league game on Espanyol’s fabulous 40,000m ground since it opened in 2009.
How’s it going
After settling in the Champions League places, Barca’s next target is Real Betiswho are two points ahead of them in the La Liga standings and travel to Levante at 4.15pm CET.
But Barça must also bounce above Atlético Madridwho despite falling to ten men managed to win 4-3 in a frenetic encounter with Getafe.
Second place Seville has already done the job this weekend with a 2-0 win over Elche on Friday night, but real Madrid were held 0-0 to Villarreal on Saturday, giving Barca the chance to close the gap to 13 points. And they would still have one game less on the leaders…
Did you know?
FC Barcelona was founded in 1899 and what was originally called the ‘Spanish Football Society’ in 1900, making it the oldest game in Spanish football.
Barca haven’t lost any of the last 23 league derbies. Avoid defeat on Sunday and they would equal the Spanish derbies record (real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid between 2000 and 2013).
xavier holds the record for the most appearances in the Barcelona derby (36), and it is also the game in which he has scored the most goals (6). As a player, he only had two defeats against Espanyol.
If chosen, Gerard pricks will go to fifth place in the all-time appearances list for Barca behind Lionel Messi (778), Xavi Hernández (767), Andrés Iniesta (674) and Sergio Busquets (659).
Xavi won’t name his squad until Sunday morning, but confirmed on Saturday that “Eric Garcia is fine and he will be in the team but Memphis needs a little more time.
Serge Roberto (tendon), Samuel Umtiti (toe), Ansu Fati (tendon), Clement Lenglet (hamstrings) and Alex Balde (ankle) are also injured, while Dani Alves is suspended following his red card against Atlético.
“Espanyol have changed a lot since the last game. It’s been one of their best teams for a long time. They will seek revenge, but we have also improved a lot.
“We are improving, but we need to attack the spaces better, not deviate from our strategy and get the wingers through on goal.”
“My idea was to play Dembele against Atlético, but I had to make another change.
“I don’t think it makes a difference that the referee was a Barca fan when he was a kid. It could work the other way around and he will go against us to show it’s not true.
“The goal is to finish in the top four. We can’t count the chances of winning the league, but there is a huge point difference.
“We will miss Alves in the next four games. He understands positional play, scores goals, gives assists… It’s a shame.