Barcelona emerged comfortable winners from the Catalan derby against Espanyol as Luis Enrique’s men got more than what they bargained for on the Saturday evening.
Calamitous errors from Espanyol players saw Barcelona end up recording a high-margin triumph that puts them back to the top of La Liga standings.
Here is the in-depth match report:
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Espanyol have endured mixed fortunes in La Liga this season. Quique Sanchez Flores has done a rather fine job with his side, who are facing consistency issues despite back-to-back wins over Alaves and Espanyol earlier in April.
Sitting in ninth place in the standings, Espanyol are huge ten points behind teams in European positions and their best hope in the closing stages is to remain seated as high as possible in the La Liga table.
On the contrary, Barcelona have gained a valuable confidence boost following their 2-1 El Clasico triumph and are keen to continue to pile pressure on Real Madrid at the top of the standings. Los Blancos have a game in hand, but Luis Enrique’s men are determined to fight all the way as.
The Catalan rivals had several selection issues heading into the derby match on Saturday evening. The hosts were forced to make do without Duarte, Sevilla and Vazquez, whereas the visiting side made a short trip to RCDE Stadium, formerly known as Estadi Cornella-El Prat, without Iniesta, Mathie, Rafinha and Vidal. On the other hand, Neymar’s return from suspension was a vital boost for the visiting side.
Buoyed by an amazing atmosphere inside the stadium tonight, Espanyol players started the game on the front foot.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ side threw numbers at Barcelona and had a brilliant chance to make their pressure worthwhile with Caicedo finding Jurado inside the Barcelona box only six minutes inside the game.
The 30-year-old Spanish midfielder was surprisingly left alone and given all the time in the world to send it home, but his ball went wide of the post.
The early exchanges saw the home side put in a strong performance against their local rivals as Barcelona struggled to set their trademark footprint on the match initially. The Catalan giants managed to shake off the initial pressure however and push forward more decisively as the time went by.
Barcelona midfielder Rakitic got himself in a good position to score with one of the best opportunities to Barca in the first half, but the Croatian star’s effort from distance deflected just wide of the Espanyol post.
The biggest goal-scoring opportunity for Barcelona occurred with five minutes left on the clock in the first half when Neymar picked out Roberto with a beautiful cross, but the Barcelona right-back headed it into the side-netting.
There were no changes to the score, however, as both sides headed down the tunnel at a goalless stalemate. The first interval brought plenty of disappointment with both sides struggling to overcome initial pressure imposed by the game’s importance as well as the two teams’ historic rivalry.
The opening initiative and enthusiasm displayed by the home side at the beginning of the match slowly withered after the break as Barcelona took full control of the match in the second half.
Espanyol will have none other but themselves to blame for letting Barcelona open them up five minutes into the second half however. Having missed the clear-cut chance to put his team up early in the game, Jurado ended up presenting Barcelona with a gift when his miscalculated ball back to Diego Lopez got intercepted by lethal Luis Suarez.
The Uruguay striker slotted it home with ease and put his team firmly in the driving seat.
Wisely and skillfully controlling the proceedings, Barcelona waited for a chance to kill the game and wrap it up all nicely to get back in top place in the standings. Real Madrid’s win over Valencia put them up top briefly, but Barca made sure to reclaim the leading spot after 76 minutes of the Catalan derby.
Leo Messi picked the ball up at the centre of the pitch and pierced his way through the middle before passing the ball left to Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian midfielder displayed commendable composure as he calmly sent Diego Lopez to one side and the ball into the other, doubling the lead for his team.
The Catalans ended up finishing the match with a flattering 3-0 margin, finishing the game pretty much the same way they started it. Espanyol players once again shot themselves in the foot with three minutes left on the clock as Luis Suarez was once again presented with a precious gift.
A terrible clearance from inside the penalty area fell straight to Luis Suarez, who skillfully rounded the Espanyol goalkeeper and found the back of the net.
- Barcelona dominated the match with 66% possession to Espanyol’s 34%
- Luis Enrique’s men made 15 goals attempts to Espanyol’s 6
- Nine of Barcelona’s total shots were on target
- Barca scored 104 goals in 35 La Liga games thus far
- Luis Suarez’s brace takes his tally to 26 la Liga goals this season
ESPANYOL: Diego Lopez 6 – Javi Lopez 5.5, David Lopez 5.5, Reyes 5.5, Caricol 5.5 – Jurado 5, Sanchez 6, Fuego 5.5 (Roca 5), Piatti 6 (Perez 5.5) – Moreno 6, Caicedo 6 (Baptistao 6).
Unused subs: Diop, Duarte R., Jimenez, Navarro.
BARCELONA: ter Stegen 6.5 – Roberto 7, Pique 6.5, Umtiti 7, Alba 7.5 – Gomes 7 (Mascherano 6), Busquets 7.5, Rakitic 8 – Messi 7.5, Suarez 8, Neymar 7.
Unused subs: Alena, Cillessen, Digne, Paco, Suarez D., Turan.
REFEREE: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
Other results today
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada
Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia
Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona
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