Barcelona’s win in the Clasico has blown he Liga title race wide open and, after the midweek hammering of Osasuna, Luis Enrique’s make the short trip to local rivals Espanyol.
With so much on the line, combined with the fact that the hosts are on course for a best finish since 2011, this could be one of the best Catalan derbies in years. Saturday’s action begins at 7:45PM.
Bring it on!
Can Espanyol Dent Barca’s Title Bid?
Quique Sanchez Flores has enjoyed a successful first year back in his homeland as Espanyol look destined to finish in the top half. While those triumphs have already established a platform for further progress next term, a derby win could be absolutely huge for the Periquitos.
Espanyol have succumbed to Barca’s dominance, last registering a league win over their rivals back in 2009, and are still awaiting their first win at the RCDE Stadium. While they’ll certainly enter this one as the underdogs, they can have reason for optimism.
The hosts have scored an impressive 28 home goals this term, and can look to the likes of Gerard Moreno and Pablo Piatti for further inspiration here. In the defensive third at home, they’ve conceded two or more on just two occasions since the start of November. Barcelona’s formidable strikeforce will test their resistance, but this is arguably the best Espanyol side for years.
And if they do cause an upset, it could stop their rivals winning the title. The incentive is certainly there – will they provide the performance to match?
Messi On A Mission
Barcelona haven’t been at their best this year, but they remain in the hunt to retain their domestic title. In recent weeks, that has largely been down to the brilliance of their greatest star. Lionel Messi has scored two goals in five of his last six goals, and that could spell disaster for Espanyol.
The Argentinian will be joined by the returning Neymar following the Brazilian’s suspension while Luis Suarez will complete the trio. Those attacking threats will give the visitors a fantastic chance, especially if they’re firing on all cylinders. Nonetheless, the Blaugrana shouldn’t assume that this will be an easy contest.
After all, their defensive weaknesses have been shown on multiple occasions on the road. Meanwhile, Luis Enrique’s men do seem vulnerable to putting in a poor performance out of nowhere. Still, if they play like they can, three points should be on the cards.
It’s set to be an electric atmosphere on and off the pitch, and should be a cracking spectacle. Let’s just hope we can win some money too.
Espanyol V Barcelona Betting
Despite conceding home advantage, Barcelona are the overwhelming favourites at 2/11 with Unibet. Espanyol, meanwhile, can be backed at 14/1 and the draw is available at 13/2.
This is a strong Espanyol side, and Flores will see cracks in the Barcelona side. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to see past the away win here, especially as the visitors have so much to play for.
All Barca can do is keep piling the pressure on Real Madrid, who play later in the weekend. A big win in what is one of their hardest remaining fixtures would go a long way to doing it, which is why we’re backing them to win both halves.
If Barcelona are to put in a big performance, it seems inevitable that Messi will be the main man once more. The number 10 is on an incredible scoring run, and should continue that by finding the net at some stage.
But at odds of 7/4, we’re backing him to grab two for a fourth game on the spin.