Two years ago at Camp Nou, Espanyol scored a last minute equaliser which denied Barcelona the 2007 title and this has not been forgotten by Barca as they prepare for the visit of their city rivals. Barca sit on top of La Liga, 10 points clear of Real Madrid, while Espanyol languish at the foot of the table.
“Two years ago Espanyol caused us to lose the league title and they were delighted while celebrating their goals,” Barca defender Gerard Pique told news agency EFE. “It wouldn’t bother me a bit if they were relegated.”
Espanyol who have gone 14 league matches without a win welcome back captain Raul Tamudo from a long-term injury layoff and he is likely to start as substitute.
Lionel Messi will start for the home team but captain Carles Puyol remains an injury doubt and will face a late fitness test to see if he can play, while Andreas Iniesta suffered a hamstring injury during training on Tuesday and has now been told that the will be out of action for two weeks.
This will be the fourth time the sides have met this season with Barca winning the first meeting 2-1 at Olimpico Lluis thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty in the 100th minute. The two other meetings were the Copa Del Rey quarter-final played over two legs, which Barca emerged as winners 3-2 on aggregate.
This is first time ever that the sides have met with such a large margin between them as Barcelona are 42 points ahead. Guardiola’s team are also the division’s top scorers with 70 goals while Espanyol have scored just 20 times so far in their 23 matches and Guardiola has won the ten derbies in which he has competed as a player and as a coach for Barca and will be hoping to make it eleven later today.
Feb 14 Real Betis 2-2 Barcelona (La Liga)
Feb 08 Barcelona 3-1 Sporting Gijon (La Liga)
Feb 05 Barcelona 2-0 Mallorca (Copa Del Rey)
Feb 01 Racing 1-2 Barcelona (La Liga)
Jan 29 Barcelona 3-2 Espanyol (Copa Del Rey)
Feb 14 Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla (La Liga)
Feb 08 Getafe 1-1 Espanyol (La Liga)
Feb 01 Espanyol 1-1 Recreativo (La Liga)
Jan 29 Barcelona 3-2 Espanyol (La Liga)
Jan 25 Valladolid 1-1 Espanyol (La Liga)
PROBABLE STARTING XI’s
Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Puyol/Pique, Abidal, Xavi, Hleb, Busquets/Toure, Messi, Eto’o, Henry
Kameni/Alvarez, Torrejon, Pareja, Sergio Sanchez, De La Pena, Roman, Alonso, Luis Garcia, Nene, Coro/ Tamudo
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