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Barcelona vs Espanyol – La Liga: TV channel, team news, lineups and prediction

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League leading Barcelona host their Catalan rivals Espanyol in La Liga on Saturday afternoon.

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La Blaugrana may have been dumped out of the Champions League group stage and were convincingly turned over by Real Madrid in the season’s first chunk. However, Barcelona dropped just two league points outside of El Clasico to go into the World Cup break two points clear of Los Blancos.

Espanyol, by contrast, have won just two top-flight matches all season. A league-high six draws has kept Diego Martinez’s side above the dreaded dotted line but they limped into the winter hiatus with just one more point than relegation-dwelling Sevilla and Cadiz.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 215th competitive (well, that remains to be seen) Catalan derby.

Barcelona vs Espanyol H2H Results (Last Five Games)

Current Form (Last Five Games)

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Barcelona team news

Gerard Pique obviously won’t be in contention for any more Barcelona matches after announcing his surprise retirement on the eve of the World Cup break.

Robert Lewandowski hasn’t breathed a word about wrapping up his career but will miss the next three La Liga matches through suspension after collecting his first Barcelona red card against Osasuna in November.

Barcelona Starting 11 (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; Raphinha, Fati, Dembele.
Bench: Pena, Araujo, Kessie, Torres, Depay, De Jong, Garcia, Alba, Alonso.

Espanyol team news

Martinez won’t be able to call upon Dani Gomez who was shown a straight red card during Espanyol’s first-round Copa del Rey tie against CD Rincon in November.

The freqeunt substitute Keidi Bare is suffering from a ligament injury while left-back Adria Pedrosa has been sidelined with a hernia for the entire first act of La Liga.

Espanyol Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Lecomte; Gil, S Gomez, Calero, Olivan; Exposito, Souza; Braithwaite, Darder, Puado; Joselu.
Bench: Fernandez, Garcia, El Hilali, Vidal, Cabrera, Lazo, Melamed, Martinez, Villahermosa.

On Martinez’s last trip to Camp Nou, he masterminded a surprise 2-1 victory for his Granada side. Barcelona were in the midst of Ronald Koeman’s underwhelming tenure at the time but the match could serve as a template for Espanyol.

The pattern of frustrated Barcelona possession – the Catalans had 81% back in April 2021 – will surely be repeated given Espanyol’s disinterest in the ball at the best of times.

Without the suspended Lewandowski, Barcelona don’t have an obvious trump card to play. However, a youthful, fluid and fleet-footed frontline may possess enough verve to find a way through Espanyol’s blockade.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Espanyol

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