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Jul 8, 2020 at 9pm UK at Camp Nou
Suarez (56')
Fati (50')
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de Tomas (45'), Lopez (90+4')

Preview: Barcelona vs. Espanyol - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Espanyol, including team news and predicted lineups.

Barcelona will be looking to keep their slim hopes of La Liga glory alive when they play host to basement side Espanyol on Wednesday evening.

In contrast, Espanyol are 11 points adrift of safety and their relegation to the second tier will be confirmed if they lose to the Catalan giants in midweek.

Match preview

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his 700th goal in their match against Atletico Madrid on June 30, 2020© Reuters

Barcelona showed exactly what they are capable of as they dispatched Champions League-chasing Villarreal with ease on Sunday night, but three one-pointers since La Liga returned to action means that the damage has already been done with four games left to play.

Indeed, Quique Setien's men have dropped points against Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid in the last few weeks, and Barca's fierce rivals Real Madrid are currently four points clear atop the rankings as the season enters its final stretch.

While it is, of course, mathematically possible for Barca to pip Madrid to the title, Zinedine Zidane's side have shown no signs of letting up and now have relatively friendly fixtures to contend with as they look to win their first La Liga title since 2017.

Barcelona appear destined to finish in the runners-up spot for the 2019-20 campaign and will no doubt already have one eye on their Champions League last-16 second leg with Napoli, but while there is still the possibility of Madrid slipping up, Setien will not accept any complacency from his side as the season draws to a close.

As the Catalan giants head into their penultimate home game of the season in La Liga, they will be looking to get back to winning ways on familiar territory as Barca's 2-2 draw with Atletico ended an eight-game winning run in the league for Setien's men at Camp Nou.

Espanyol midfielder Marc Roca pictured in January 2020© Reuters

Meanwhile, Espanyol's 1-0 defeat to relegation rivals Leganes at the weekend has all but confirmed their relegation to the Segunda Division as they remain rooted to the bottom of the table on 24 points.

Francisco Rufete's men began the restart in perfect fashion with victory over Alaves - only their fifth in the entire campaign, but Espanyol have been unable to carry that momentum forward and their 26-year stint in the top flight now looks set to come to an end.

Espanyol showed plenty of promise last season as they qualified for the Europa League in seventh place, which was their highest finish since the 2004-05 campaign, but it has been a completely different story this time around and Rufete's side need nothing short of a miracle to preserve their La Liga status.

Anything but a win here and Espanyol's relegation from La Liga will be confirmed, with Los Periquitos currently 11 points behind 17th-placed Eibar - who have a game in hand - with only four games of the season left to play.

Rufete's men are winless in their last seven league games on the road and have been handed a mammoth task to overcome against Barcelona, although Espanyol did manage to salvage a point against the Catalan giants earlier in the campaign courtesy of an 88th-minute Wu Lei equaliser.

Barcelona La Liga form: WDWDDW

Espanyol La Liga form: DLLLLL

Team News

Samuel Umtiti pictured ahead of Barcelona's La Liga clash with Rayo Vallecano in March 2019© Reuters

Samuel Umtiti is still nursing a knee injury and will not feature for Barca in midweek, meaning Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique will form a centre-back partnership once again.

Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele remain out through injury, while Junior Firpo is struggling with a hip problem and is not expected to feature.

Setien could opt against making any changes at all to the side that dispatched Villarreal with ease, although Ivan Rakitic is an option should the Barca manager look to freshen up the midfield.

As for Espanyol, Rufete will have to make do without forward Jonathan Calleri following his sending off against Leganes.

La Liga's basement side must win this game to keep any hope of survival alive, and that could reflect in Rufete's team selection, but the Espanyol manager will need to strike a balance between going for goals and trying to keep Barca at bay.

Sebastien Corchia has recovered from a meniscus problem but has now returned to parent club Sevilla, and Pipa is also a doubt with a muscular complaint.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Vidal; Messi; Suarez, Griezmann

Espanyol possible starting lineup:
Diego Lopez; J. Lopez, Espinosa, Cabrera, Vila; Roca, David Lopez; Melendo, Darder, Embarba, Tomas

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Barcelona 4-0 Espanyol

Espanyol could hardly have been handed a more difficult game to try and keep their faint hopes of La Liga survival alive, and with the division's basement side now facing an unrelenting Barcelona team on Wednesday, we expect the Catalan giants to record a straightforward victory and send Espanyol down to the Segunda Division.

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Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring on June 16, 2020
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· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

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· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

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