Los Periquitos are determined not to lose their unblemished home record against their great city rivals...
A cracking match is in store at the Cornella-El Prat on Saturday evening, where Espanyol host near neighbours Barcelona in what is sure to be a highly competitive fixture. While la Blaugrana boast a perfect seven wins from seven matches on their travels, los Periquitos can point to a perfect home record.
The very mention of Barca’s name can send fear running through sides, with Real Madrid proving earlier this season that they are not immune to such problems. But Espanyol are aiming to go toe-to-toe with Barcelona in front of their home fans.
“We are not afraid of Barcelona, but we know we have to go to war,” Pablo Osvaldo has explained this week. “We are going to play football, but we know that we are facing the best team in the world, and we need to use our own weapons.
“We must be a united group, and if we are not it will be become difficult for us to win. We will try to give joy to the people. We must be calm, and feeling the support of the fans will give us strength.”
Raul Baena echoed these comments, stating: “When we play them we must do so without fear, put pressure on them and play in our own style, as we did last year. We all know what they can do, but we also know that we have seven wins from seven at the Cornella-El Prat, and we want to make it eight.”
Espanyol have a history of thwarting their great neighbours, particularly at home, perhaps typified best by last season’s 0-0 draw just as Pep Guardiola’s men were trying to accelerate towards the title. Another such result will be considered possible by the hosts.
At The Pinnacle
Barcelona are a side that need no introduction, and they will be dead set on picking up three points on Saturday to ensure they finish 2010 as La Liga’s top club. Not only would that be one in the eye for Real Madrid, it would also be a bloody nose to local rivals Espanyol, who have taken much pleasure from frustrating Barca in recent times.
There has been no stopping Pep Guardiola’s men domestically in recent months. Eyebrows were raised in the early part of the season when questionable results were attained at home against Hercules and Mallorca, but since then they’ve completely found their stride, with the 5-0 Clasico victory over Real Madrid a match to be remembered throughout the generations.
But since defeating los Blancos in such style, Barca haven’t taken their eye from the ball and have maintained their intensity. Osasuna were dispatched 3-0 in Pamplona immediately after their Monday night success, while an awkward home fixture against Real Sociedad was brilliantly negotiated 5-0, with Lionel Messi typically starring.
Much has been made this week of Barca’s record breaking new advertising deal, but once again Guardiola will want his side to do their talking on the pitch. As fluent and as effective as ever – perhaps more so – Barcelona could round off 2010 in La Primera in fine style if they can pick up a 10th successive win.
Manu Molina and Javi Lopez aren’t expected to feature after training at a lower level than their team-mates in the lead up to the derby. Javi Lopez is also touch and go.
Raul Rodriguez and David Lopez have hamstring issues, while coach Mauricio Pochettino has been suffering with flu.
Pep Guardiola almost has a full squad to select from. Gabriel Milito and Jeffren Suarez are the only two players injured.