Barcelona v Espanyol – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
19 November 2021
Barcelona host Espanyol at Camp Nou on Saturday evening in the Derbi barceloní. It is the most played local derby in La Liga history but Barca holds a very unbalanced 124-44 head-to-head advantage. This match sees Xavi take charge of his first match after replacing Ronald Koeman. The sides sit level in La Liga with the hosts only ahead on goal difference.
Barca has had a poor season so far with just four wins in 12 La Liga matches. Heavy Champions League defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica also contributed to Ronald Koeman being sacked. Consecutive home wins against Valencia and Dinamo Kiev proved a false down as Barcelona then lost 2-1 at home to Real Madrid.
A1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano followed and then a poor 1-1 home draw with Alaves. They did win 1-0 away to Dinamo Kiev but the last straw came at Celta Vigo. Barca let 3-0 after 51 minutes but proceeded to draw 3-3 after some shambolic defending.
Barcelona Team News
Xavi has seen the returns to training this week of Gerard Pique, Pedri, Sergi Roberto, Eric Garcia, and Nico Gonzalez. The latter duo went off injured in the Celta Vigo match whilst Pique has missed two matches. Pedri and Roberto have been out for a while and may need more training before featuring. Ousmane Dembele remains out but is back in training now.
Veteran right-back Dani Alves has re-joined the club on the lowest salary in La Liga and will hope to be in the squad. It remains to be seen if he plays a more narrow, restrained role as he did for Brazil at the Olympics.
Barcelona will be very eager to win this match to signal a new era under Xavi, to beat their heated city rivals, and to move up the log towards the top six places.
Xavi is set to play a high possession style and will expect his team to try to dominate from the first whistle. A counter-attacking approach is not likely to be seen.
Espanyol is back in the top flight this season and has made a good start. Their first 13 matches have seen four wins and five draws. After a five-match winless start to the season, they won three of their next four including a superb 2-1 home win against Real Madrid.
Their last four matches have seen a 2-2 draw at Elche (having led 2-1), a 1-1 home draw with Athletic Bilbao, and a 2-1 loss at Getafe. Their most recent match saw them move level on points with Barcelona after a 2-0 home win against Grenade with Adria Pedrosa and Raul de Tomas on target.
Espanyol Team News
Keidi Bare is the side’s only injury doubt and he could miss out in central midfield. Centre forward Raul de Tomas is a key man and has netted seven goals in 12 La Liga appearances this season.
40-year-old goalkeeper Diego Lopez is crucial with his Real Madrid and AC Milan experience. Former Barcelona right-back Aleix Vidal will be keen to impress.
As a newly promoted side with such a poor record against Barcelona, they would take a point from this match in a heartbeat. Espanyol has not been free-flowing this season but is solid at the back.
This derby is very heated and emotional and Espanyol will be hugely motivated for it. Their win against Real Madrid this season will give them a lot of confidence.
Barca have lost 3 of their last 6 La Liga matches
Barcelona is 6 La Liga matches without a clean sheet
Barcelona hold a 124-44 Head to head advantage over Espanyol
Barcelona are unbeaten in 21 La Liga matches against Espanyol (W16, D5)
Espanyol have lost 1 of their last 6 La Liga matches (W3, D2)
Espanyol have scored in their last 6 La Liga matches
Barcelona has a superb record against their city rivals and will be extra motivated to win for Xavi in his first match. Espanyol is not an attacking team but has enough to score in this match but Barcelona should win by a couple of goals.
Best Bet: Both teams to score at 1.90
Alternative Bet: Barcelona win (-1 handicap) at 2.10
Correct Score Tip: Barcelona 3-1 Espanyol at 10.75