The season’s 2nd Catalonia Derby will be played this weekend as Barcelona host their city rivals Espanyol in the La Liga action at Camp Nou, in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, on Saturday night (IST).
What competition it is? La Liga
Teams: Barcelona and Espanyol
Kick Off: Saturday 30 March
Match Timing: 08:45 PM (IST)
Where the game is played? Camp Nou (99,354)
TV Info: Ten Sports Network has the rights to stream select La Liga matches in India. Matches can also be enjoyed on Facebook.
The derby atmosphere in Barcelona can already be felt days before the real action starts at Camp Nou. These are the types of games which don’t need the extra fuel to stoke up the players or the fans, but Gerard Pique’s comment has done just that.
The multiple Champions League winning center-back was quoted as saying that he has more money than “Espanyol’s budget of this season”.
Pique has never shied away from making bold statements and often takes subtle digs at Real Madrid. But this time, it feels as if he has crossed the line in disrespecting his opponent.
Barcelona have a near monopoly in this fixture and also the fact that they are the biggest footballing force in Catalonia and one of the biggest in Europe, make their players a tad more condescending.
The Catalan giants sit atop the La Liga table having accrued 66 points from 28 games. While their opponents are reeling down at 13th with 34 points from 28 games.
So Barca boasts a huge 32 points lead over their city rivals, who are just nine points clear of bottom three. It’s this gap, the unbridgeable looking gulf, which is the reason why Pique couldn’t hold the urge to take a sly dig at Espanyol.
The visitors shouldn’t get entangled in the relegation fight. But there’s no denying that the danger looms, though how subtle it may be, but it is there. The gap between them and the bottom three could shrink to just six points if they lose and Celta Vigo wins their match.
While for the hosts, the treble is still on the cards. Ernesto Valverde’s men will head into their Copa del Rey final clash against Valencia as the firm favorites, while they boast a 10 point lead as things stand in La Liga.
Anything less than those two trophies in the bag will be seen as a catastrophic event. While there’s also a small matter of the Champions League. Lionel Messi and Co have been drawn against Manchester United and are favorites to advance.
Recent form (Last six matches)
Barcelona – W W L W W W
Espanyol – W D D W D L
BAR vs ESL Dream11 TEAM NEWS: Injuries and Suspensions
Barcelona vs Espanyol Team News:
Injured – Ousmane Dembele suffered a hamstring injury in the 2nd leg Champions League last-16 match against Lyon and remains out.
Rafinha had knee surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Suspended – None.
Questionable – Back-up goalie Jasper Cillessen picked up a knock on international duty with the Nederlands and will be evaluated before the match.
Note: Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez should be fine to return here after playing through pain in recent matches. Clement Lenglet should be preferred over Samuel Umtiti with the former excelling at the back.
With Dembele out, Philippe Coutinho will be starting on the wing.
Key Players – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez
Injured – Espanyol will be without the trio of Pablo Piatti, David Lopez, and Facundo Ferreyra.
Suspended – Playmaker Sergi Darder picked up two yellow cards in the 0-1 home loss against Sevilla and will be serving a one-game ban.
Questionable – Oscar Duarte is a doubt and will be monitored before the match.
Note: Hernan Perez is expected to get the nod on the right wing, while Esteban Granero and Naldo could feature in the midfield and at center-back respectively.
Key Players – Borja Iglesias, Marc Roca
BAR vs ESL Dream11 Playing 11 – (Probable) –
Barcelona– Stegen (GK), Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Semedo, Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur, Coutinho, Messi, Suarez
Espanyol– Lopez (GK), Rosales, Hermoso, Naldo, Vila, Melendo, Roca, Granero, Perez, Lei, Iglesias
BAR vs ESL Dream11 FANTASY TEAM:
INDIA FANTASY PREDICTION:
Barcelona have won 13 of their last 15 games in La Liga. While their record against Espanyol is even better having not lost a home game against them since 2009.
We back the Catalan giants to extend that record and win this match.
THIS BAR vs ESL Dream11 MATCH PREVIEW IS BASED ON OUR RESEARCH AND UNDERSTANDING FROM VARIOUS NEWS SOURCES. YOU CAN SELECT YOUR OWN PLAYING 11 ON THE BASIS OF TEAM NEWS AND ALL THE OTHER INFORMATION REQUIRED FROM THIS WEBSITE. USING OUR TEAMS IN ANY CONTEST WILL INCREASE THE PROBABILITY OF HAVING THE SAME EXACT TEAM WITH OTHER USERS CAN LEAD TO THE WINNINGS SPLIT.