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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.

Players to watch

L. Messi

Position: Attacker

Games: 8

  • 7
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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

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

  • 0
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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.

Editor's 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.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Barcelona

Espanyol

Wins
5
0
0
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

FC Barcelona FCB
FC Barcelona Barcelona
Draw
Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol ESP
Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol Espanyol
86%

Top 3 Predictions

FC Barcelona FCB
3 - 1
Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol ESP
FC Barcelona FCB
4 - 1
Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol ESP
FC Barcelona FCB
4 - 0
Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol ESP

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