MX23RW : Wednesday, October 20 14:22:38| >> :120:11386:11386:
Sep 9, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at Camp Nou
Attendance: 72,857
Messi (26', 35', 67'), Pique (87'), Suarez (90')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Preview: Barcelona vs. Espanyol

Sports Mole previews Saturday's La Liga clash between Catalan rivals Barcelona and Espanyol at Camp Nou.

Barcelona will look to continue their 100% start to the 2017-18 La Liga campaign when they welcome rivals Espanyol to Camp Nou for the Catalan derby on Saturday night.

Espanyol have gone 16 games without a win against Barcelona in La Liga, which is their worst ever run in this particular derby.


Gerard Pique in action for Barcelona on October 19, 2016© SilverHub

Barcelona might have suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Spanish champions Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup last month, but the Catalan side have opened their new league season with two straight wins.

Indeed, a comfortable 2-0 success over Real Betis on August 20 was followed by a 2-0 victory at Alaves before the international break. Barcelona have not been spectacular in the early weeks of the new season – far from it – but they have managed to put six points on the board.

The powers that be did not manage to convince Liverpool to sell Philippe Coutinho in the latter stages of the transfer window, but Ousmane Dembele arrived from Borussia Dortmund, and the Frenchman will look to form an exciting front three alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as the memory of Neymar fades.

Barcelona will enter Saturday's match having won each of their last 13 home games in La Liga, which is their best run of form since January 2014.

Next week will see the return of the Champions League, and Ernesto Valverde's side have the small matter of a group opener against Italian champions Juventus. That is for Tuesday, however, with the club's focus currently on winning a third straight league game at the start of the new season.

Barcelona will travel to Getafe, welcome Eibar and visit Girona in their next three league matches, and there is every reason to believe that the Catalan giants could win each of their first six league fixtures. Real Madrid have already dropped points this term, but it is still very early days in the 2017-18 campaign.

Recent form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): LLWW


Quique Flores looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford on March 2, 2016© Getty Images

Espanyol opened their 2017-18 La Liga campaign with a 1-1 draw at Sevilla on August 19, but will enter this match off the back of a 1-0 defeat at home to Leganes before the international break.

This is not the fixture that Espanyol would have wanted as they look for a win, especially considering their rotten derby record against Barcelona.

A very impressive 2016-17 La Liga season saw Espanyol finish in eighth position, and Quique Flores will be looking to oversee another positive campaign.

Starting the new season with a point at Sevilla was extremely positive, but the team suffered a setback after losing at Leganes last time out. Espanyol only had the 11th best home form in the league last season, but just five teams collected more away points than the Catalan club during the 2016-17 campaign.

Indeed, Sanchez's team lost just six of their 19 away league games last season – recording seven wins in the process. There is no getting away from the fact that Espanyol have struggled in this fixture, however, and will visit Camp Nou having lost each of their last eight games in the famous stadium.

Recent form: DL

Team News

Luis Suarez in action for Barcelona during their La Liga clash with Granada at the Camp Nou on October 29, 2016© SilverHub

Ivan Rakitic will miss out for Barcelona after suffering a muscular problem during the international break, while Rafinha is still sidelined for the home team.

Luis Suarez has overcome a knee problem, however, and after featuring for Uruguay during the international break, the centre-forward should return to the starting XI.

All eyes will be on Dembele as the Frenchman prepares to make his Barcelona debut, while Paulinho could also make his first start for the hosts as Andres Iniesta is given a break.

As for Espanyol, Victor Sanchez and Alvaro Vazquez should shake off injuries, but defender Oscar Duarte and midfielder Javi Lopez are expected to miss out.

Sergio Garcia is available, although it seems likely that the veteran forward will start the Catalan derby on the bench.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Paulinho, Roberto; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

Espanyol possible starting lineup:
Diego Lopez; Sanchez, D.Lopez, Naldo, Aaron; Jurado, Diop, Fuego, Piatti; Gerard, Baptistao

Head To Head

Espanyol have not beaten Barcelona in any competition since February 2009, when Periquitos recorded a 2-1 win at Camp Nou. Since then, Barcelona have utterly dominated the fixtures between the two teams.

Last season, Barcelona recorded a 4-1 victory on home soil, before winning 3-0 at El Prat in April.

Espanyol have actually lost their last eight games at Camp Nou, which is their worst run of form since May 2004 (17).

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We say: Barcelona 3-0 Espanyol

Espanyol will cause plenty of teams problems this season, but it is very difficult to predict the visitors taking something from Camp Nou this weekend.

Indeed, we are backing Barcelona to continue their excellent derby run with a routine 3-0 victory - Dembele to be among the scorers for the hosts.

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Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona applauds as he leaves the pitch during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou on May 23, 2015
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