Barcelona – Espanyol Preview: Guardiola set for Camp Nou swansong
With both teams having nothing but local pride to play for, the focus will be on the Catalan coach, who will occupy the home dugout for the last time before he takes a sabbatical
By Karthick Arvinth
Montoya, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano
Xavi, Busquets, Thiago
Fabregas, Messi, Pedro
Lopez, Rodriguez, Moreno, Didac
Weiss, Verdu, Coutinho
Barcelona playmaker Xavi has returned to training after a calf problem and may be fit in time for Saturday’s encounter with city rivals Espanyol at Camp Nou.
Midfield duo Sergio Busquets and Thiago Alcantara could be recalled to the starting XI after being rested on the bench for Wednesday’s win over Malaga, but Gerard Pique (concussion) and Alexis Sanchez (thigh) are unlikely to feature.
Jose Manuel Pinto is expected to continue in goal, while young defender Martin Montoya could be preferred to Dani Alves at right-back.
Espanyol will welcome back striker Kalu Uche, who missed Tuesday’s defeat at Granada with a knee problem, but Sergio Garcia (thigh) is a doubt, while right-back Felipe Mattioni and midfielder Juan Albin are both ruled out through injury.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- With their 4-1 victory over Malaga, Barcelona set a new club record for most goals scored in a single La Liga season (108), beating the previous record of 105 set in the 2008-09 campaign.
- The Blaugrana will play Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final in Madrid on May 25.
- With his hat-trick against Malaga, Lionel Messi (pictured right) set a new European record for most goals scored in a top-flight season (68). The feat had previously been held by former Bayern Munich striker Gerd Muller, who had netted 67 times in the 1972-73 season.
- Espanyol have won just one of their last eight matches in La Liga. They are 75/1 to win the game 1-0.
- Mauricio Pochettino's men are on a nine-match winless run away from home in the league (D5, L4).
- Espanyol’s last victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou was a 2-1 success in February 2009.
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Top 3 Predictions
Barcelona 5-0 Espanyol
- 17.09 %
Barcelona 4-0 Espanyol
- 8.81 %
Barcelona 3-1 Espanyol
- 8.28 %
|La Liga (LIGA)||6 Jan 2013||Barcelona 4 - Espanyol 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||5 May 2012||Barcelona 4 - Espanyol 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||8 Jan 2012||Espanyol 1 - Barcelona 1|
|La Liga (LIGA)||8 May 2011||Barcelona 2 - Espanyol 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||18 Dec 2010||Espanyol 1 - Barcelona 5|
|12 May 2013||Atlético de Madrid 1 - Barcelona 2||LIGA|
|5 May 2013||Barcelona 4 - Betis 2||LIGA|
|1 May 2013||Barcelona 0 - FC Bayern München 3||UCL|
|27 Apr 2013||Athletic de Bilbao 2 - Barcelona 2||LIGA|
|23 Apr 2013||FC Bayern München 4 - Barcelona 0||UCL|
|Returns:||Barcelona £11.43||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Returns:||Draw £560.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Espanyol £810.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|18||Juan Daniel Forlín||Defender|
|16||Javier López Rodríguez||Defender|
|26||Víctor Sánchez Mata||Midfielder|
Barca will want to produce a final flourish in front of their fans and they should have little trouble against their local rivals, who have been poor away from home all season.