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Primera División

  • May 5, 2012
  • • 20:00
  • • Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
  • • Attendance: 98772
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Barcelona – Espanyol Preview: Guardiola set for Camp Nou swan song

Barcelona – Espanyol Preview: Guardiola set for Camp Nou swan song

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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

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

BARCELONA

Pinto
Montoya, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano
Xavi, Busquets, Thiago
Fabregas, Messi, Pedro

ESPANYOL

Alvarez
Lopez, Rodriguez, Moreno, Didac
Baena, Gomez
Weiss, Verdu, Coutinho
Alvaro

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.
  • 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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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
5Carles PuyolDefender
21AdrianoDefender
2MontoyaDefender
8Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
6Thiago AlcántaraMidfielder
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
-Seydou KeitaMidfielder
16BusquetsMidfielder
10MessiStriker
7PedroStriker
12Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
22Éric AbidalDefender
22Daniel AlvesDefender
15BartraDefender
6XaviMidfielder
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
19Ibrahim AfellayMidfielder
37TelloStriker
-Cristian AlvarezGoalkeeper
3Raúl RodríguezDefender
15Héctor MorenoDefender
16Javier López RodríguezDefender
6Juan Daniel ForlínDefender
12Dídac VilàDefender
7Raúl BaenaMidfielder
10VerdúMidfielder
40Vladimir WeissMidfielder
4Víctor Sánchez MataMidfielder
20ÁlvaroStriker
13Kiko CasillaGoalkeeper
2Jordi AmatDefender
10CoutinhoMidfielder
30Cristian GómezMidfielder
35RUI FonteStriker
-Kalu UcheStriker
-PandianiStriker
Players to Watch
Messi
Messi
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The diminutive striker reached another milestone in his young career when he beat Gerd Muller’s European record of 67 goals in a season and, with three games still left to play this season, looks a sure bet to break the 70-goal barrier. Beating Cristiano Ronaldo to the ‘Pichichi’ award is also an incentive for the Argentine, who has scored two more league goals than the Real Madrid forward this term.
Verdú
Verdú
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The former Barcelona player’s composure on the ball and wide range of passing will be vital for the visitors’ chances of pulling off an upset in the unforgiving surroundings of Camp Nou. The 28-year-old will need to offer support to the forward players and put pressure on the Barca backline, which has proved susceptible to counter attacks.
Prediction

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.

Editor's Prediction

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