Barcelona - Espanyol Preview: Vilanova poised for Blaugrana return in local derby

The Catalan giants expect to have their coach back in the dugout just two weeks after undergoing cancer surgery, as they bid to extend their record-breaking start to the season
AC Milan
Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Pedro, Messi, Iniesta


Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Capdevila
Sanchez, Forlin
Mubarak, Verdu, Simao

Barcelona have no major injury or suspensions problems to contend with ahead of Sunday's derby with Espanyol. Defender Adriano (thigh), and midfielders Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) and Alex Song (knee) have all returned to training and are available for the Camp Nou clash.

Isaac Cuenca has recovered from a serious knee injury, and could make his first appearance of the season, while Eric Abidal is also nearing a return after a liver transplant.

Espanyol will had a late fitness test to goalkeeper Christian Alvarez, who is battling to recover from a hamstring strain. Defender Raul Rodriguez missed training during the week with a stomach bug and is a minor doubt.

  • Barcelona have won 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions.

  • The Blaugrana are on a 16-match unbeaten run at Camp Nou in all competitions (W13, D3).

  • Lionel Messi (pictured, right) has netted seven goals in his last four outings for Barca.
  • Espanyol are facing Barcelona for the 158th time. They have 34, drawn 36 and lost 87 of their previous meetings with their cross-city rivals.

  • Los Periquitos have won just one of their last eight matches in all competitions (W1, D3, L4).

  • Espanyol are yet to taste defeat since Javier Aguirre took over as coach in late November, winning one and drawing four of his matches in charge.