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Match Preview: Espanyol v Barcelona

Home » Match Preview: Espanyol v Barcelona

Saturday evening plays host to a top against bottom clash in La Liga, as newly appointed Espanyol manager Abelardo Fernandez looks to upset the odds in ‘Derbi Barceloni’

Espanyol v Barcelona – La Liga

Venue: RCDE Stadium

Date: 04/01/20

Kick Off: 20:00

TV Channel: Premier Sports

Ernesto Valverde’s side will be looking to remain top of La Liga following the winter break, and travelling to bottom side Espanyol for a local derby, he will be confident on piling the misery on Espanyol, as Fernandez takes charge of his first game in charge.

Barcelona responded to a 0-0 draw in El Classico by dispatching Alaves 4-1 at home before the winter break, and with a clash in the Spanish Super Cup against Atletico Madrid awaiting in midweek, Valverde will be keen for his side to record a routine win over Espanyol.

Barcelona have been outperforming their underlying numbers all season, scoring an impressive 47 goals despite an xG of 31.40, and this is largely down to the phenomenal form of Lionel Messi once again. His formidable partnership with Luis Suarez has been on show throughout the season, whilst Antoine Griezmann is growing into his role in the Barca side after a slow start.

Although without influential goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the Barca backline will be confident of keeping a misfiring Espanyol side at bay, as they have only score 12 goals all season, at an xG of 16.28. Espanyol are averaging 50.2% possession, but despite this, they are expected to spend the majority of the game on the back foot, in what could be a long evening in charge for manager Fernandez, who will subsequently be eyeing up other games as a priority in their battle to beat the drop, currently lying five points from safety.

The gulf in class between the two sides, coupled with key absentees of influential players Esteban Granero and Sebastien Corchia for Espanyol, does point towards a long evening in the derby, and means that most of the value will be found in the Barcelona markets.

Team News:

Serbastien Corchia is ruled out for Espanyol, as is Esteban Granero through suspension. Matias Vargas, Victor Sanchez and Pablo Piatti are all injury doubts.

Barcelona are without Ousmane Dembele, Arthur and Marc-Andre ter Stegen through injury.

Head to Head:

Espanyol Wins: 2

Draws: 8

Barcelona Wins: 25

Match Stats:

Espanyol are winless in their last 20 league meetings with Barcelona

Lionel Messi has scored 22 goals in 25 games against Espanyol

No player has scored more than twice in the league for Espanyol this season, none of which are strikers

Team Form:

Espanyol Last 5: L L L D L

Barcelona Last 5: W W D D W

Suggested Bets:

Unsurprisingly, Barcelona are heavy favourites for the trip to Espanyol, and Valverde’s side are expected to win comfortably. However, when considering Espanyol’s woes in front of goal, their xG and Barcelona’s impressive defence, both teams not to score does take appeal at 23/20. Barcelona will expect to score, but Espanyol will be keen to keep it tight for long periods and utilise the counter, as they did away Real Madrid, but their lack of cutting edge has seen them struggle to create chances, and this trend is expected to continue once again.

Goals should flow against the struggling Espanyol backline, and Messi is heavy favourite in the anytime goalscoring ranks. However, the stand out option is Antoine Griezmann. With seven goals to his name this season, and averaging 1.9 shots per game, he is constantly finding himself in goalscoring positions, and is well equipped to give David Lopez problems at the back, who hasn’t enjoyed a good run of form at the back this season. Priced at 9/5, Griezmann takes more of a fancy than that of Messi, who is as short as 8/13.

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