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Primera División

  • January 6, 2013
  • • 18:00
  • • Camp Nou, Barcelona
  • Referee: Jesús Gil
  • • Attendance: 73760
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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

  PROBABLE LINEUP
BARCELONA
AC Milan
Valdes
Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Pedro, Messi, Iniesta


ESPANYOL

Roma
Casillas
Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Capdevila
Sanchez, Forlin
Mubarak, Verdu, Simao
Garcia

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.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • 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.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
22Daniel AlvesDefender
3PiquéDefender
5Carles PuyolDefender
18Jordi AlbaDefender
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
6XaviMidfielder
8Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
16BusquetsMidfielder
10MessiStriker
7PedroStriker
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
2MontoyaDefender
6Thiago AlcántaraMidfielder
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
17Alex SongMidfielder
7David VillaStriker
9Alexis SánchezStriker
13Kiko CasillaGoalkeeper
6Juan Daniel ForlínDefender
15Héctor MorenoDefender
16Javier López RodríguezDefender
19Diego Daniel ColottoDefender
11Joan CapdevilaDefender
4Víctor Sánchez MataMidfielder
10VerdúMidfielder
20SimãoMidfielder
7Raúl BaenaMidfielder
9Sergio GarcíaStriker
1GermánGoalkeeper
3Raúl RodríguezDefender
17Víctor Guillermo Álvarez DelgadoDefender
-J. AlbínMidfielder
30Cristian GómezMidfielder
41AlfonsoMidfielder
8StuaniStriker
Players to Watch
Messi
Messi
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
31 28 2 0
The Argentine will look to pick up where he left off after his record-breaking exploits in 2012. Way ahead in the Liga scoring charts with 26 goals, Messi has a good record in the Catalan derby having netted six times in five previous meetings against the visitors at Camp Nou.
Simão
Simão
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 20
Games Goals YC RC
34 0 4 0
The Portugal veteran will hope for a happy return to Barcelona in the colours of fierce rivals Espanyol. A tricky and skillful left winger, Simao's experience will be invaluable for the visitors as they look to continue their revival under Aguirre.
Prediction
While Espanyol have shown greater resilience and better organisation under Aguirre, Barcelona have been irresistible going forward all season and should wrap up the three points without too much trouble.
Editor's Prediction

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