Barcelona-Espanyol Preview: Hosts looking for 21st consecutive home win against Catalan rivals
Gerardo Martino's men play their third game in seven days and will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2007 encounter where a 2-2 draw cost them the Liga title
By Mark Bowering
Espanyol will attempt to address a wretched record in the Catalan derby against leaders Barcelona on Friday at Camp Nou.
The city rivals meet with Liga champions Barca who are in imperious form.
Following their 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in the Clasico, Gerardo Martino's side recorded their 20th successive league win at home.
Espanyol, meanwhile, have left Camp Nou victorious just once in the last three decades, a 2-1 win in February 2009, and the odds of an upset appear slim at best.
Barcelona supporters, though, will need no reminding of how Espanyol can inflict misery on their neighbours.
A 2-2 draw between the two sides at Camp Nou in the penultimate game of the 2006-07 season, sealed by Raul Tamudo's 90th-minute effort, ultimately handed Real Madrid the title by virtue of a superior head-to-head record.
Recent encounters, however, have been dominated by Barca, who have kept a clean sheet in six of the last eight Liga clashes between the rivals.
Indeed, the statistics surrounding the Blaugrana continue to make impressive reading.
Unbeaten in competitive action since being eliminated from the Champions League by eventual winners Bayern Munich in May, and having suffered just two Liga defeats in 2013, Barca will be hoping to take full advantage of playing 24 hours before the likes of Real by cranking the pressure up with another victory.
Defender Adriano is a doubt for Barca after he suffered a hamstring injury during Tuesday's 3-0 win at Celta Vigo. Jordi Alba remains sidelined as does Jonathan dos Santos.
Espanyol head to Camp Nou determined to avoid a fourth successive away defeat and keen to build on the midweek goalless draw with Malaga.
A run of one win in six league games has unravelled what was a promising start to the season for Javier Aguirre's side.
The form book and recent history may point to a straightforward Barca victory, but Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla insists his team-mates are capable of upsetting the odds.
Casilla said: "We all know how important the derby with Barcelona is. We will go to Camp Nou and try to go all out.
"We'll have to play with intensity and try to stay focused for the entire 90 minutes.
"It's not going to be easy but it won’t be impossible. I have total respect for the Barca players, but I am not afraid of them.
"If you're scared of playing against Barcelona then you might as well stay at home."
Espanyol have no fresh injury concerns to contend with.
Top 3 Predictions
Barcelona 4-0 Espanyol
- 16.21 %
Barcelona 3-0 Espanyol
- 12.82 %
Barcelona 3-1 Espanyol
- 9.97 %
|La Liga (LIGA)||02-Nov-2013||Barcelona 1 - Espanyol 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||26-May-2013||Espanyol 0 - Barcelona 2|
|La Liga (LIGA)||06-Jan-2013||Barcelona 4 - Espanyol 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||06-May-2012||Barcelona 4 - Espanyol 0|
|La Liga (LIGA)||09-Jan-2012||Espanyol 1 - Barcelona 1|
|13-Mar-2014||Barcelona 2 - Manchester City 1||UCL|
|08-Mar-2014||Valladolid 1 - Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|03-Mar-2014||Barcelona 4 - Almeria 1||LIGA|
|23-Feb-2014||Real Sociedad 3 - Barcelona 1||LIGA|
|19-Feb-2014||Manchester City 0 - Barcelona 2||UCL|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|4||Víctor Sánchez Mata||Midfielder|
|19||Diego Daniel Colotto||Defender|