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Barcelona vs Espanyol: Catalan derby victory could further hosts title grip

Barcelona vs Espanyol: Catalan derby victory could further hosts title grip

Barcelona return to action following the international break with a Catalan derby against Espanyol on Saturday afternoon.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have a commanding 10-point lead over second placed Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga table and they can extend that with a win over Espanyol.

Extending their lead to 13 points before Atleti face Alaves could give the Camp Nou outfit a perfect vision ahead of their Champions League encounters with Manchester United, whilst they also have a place in the Copa del Rey final.

Espanyol have been indifferent of late and will need to be at their very best to beat Barca, however, following the international fixtures – anything is possible as history as shown before.

Form wise, Barcelona have won four of their last five games, whilst the visitors have lost one of their last five, losing 1-0 to Sevilla last time out.

Team News

For the home side, Valverde will not chance Ousmane Dembele, who has a muscle problem, whilst Luis Suarez has returned to full fitness.

Defensively, Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti will battle it out to partner Gerard Pique in the centre back roles.

Espanyol have Sergi Darder missing due to suspension, whilst striker Facundo Ferreyra is out with a hamstring injury until May.

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Expected XI’s

Barca: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Sergio Busquets, Arthur, Vidal, Messi, Suarez, Coutinho

Espanyol: Lopez, Rosales, Hermoso, Naldo, Vila, Granero, Roca, Melendo, Lei, Iglesias, Hernan Perez

Prediction

Barca have not lost in La Liga since mid-November and they are fully expected to win this one. Espanyol have lost just one of their last seven games but have failed to win on the road in La Liga since last October when they beat Huesca.

4-1. Messi, Messi, Messi and someone else……