Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Prediction: Barcelona vs Espanyol

Nemanja Lazarevic in La Liga, Transfer News & Rumours 24 Jan 2018

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Verdict: Barcelona to win by 3 goals or more

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

Following the shock defeat in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final clash, Barcelona will be under pressure when they take on local rivals Espanyol at Camp Nou. Los Periquitos, on the other hand, have a unique chance to eliminate their more illustrious opponents from a major competition, but they, nonetheless, face a difficult task.

Barcelona

This season has been going really well for Barcelona, who managed to excel in all the competitions entered, but that will not matter much if the Catalans fail to enjoy a strong finish to the campaign. The La Liga trophy already appears to be in the bag, meaning head coach Ernesto Valverde will be able to shift focus to the Champions League and Copa del Rey campaigns, although they face a stern challenge in the latter competition.

Ernesto Valverde’s decision to rest most starters in the first leg against Espanyol came back to haunt him as Oscar Melendo scored the winner late on after Leo Messi had missed a penalty to make it 1-0, but the Catalans will still be feeling confident of overturning the deficit in the return leg. Having won last five home games vs Espanyol by a big margin (5-0, 4-1, 5-0, 4-1, 5-1), Barcelona have reason to hope they will eventually secure their place in the Copa del Rey semis. The Catalans responded well to said defeat to Espanyol as they hammered very good Real Betis side 5-0 on the road, so everything suggests they will record another resounding victory.

Team News

Andres Iniesta and Philippe Coutinho have resumed training and they could play a part, just like Hebei Fortune bound Javier Mascherano.

Espanyol

Languishing in La Liga mid table obscurity, Espanyol haven’t enjoyed a great deal of success in recent years, so no doubt that the rare victory over local rivals Barcelona was celebrated in and around RCDE Stadium. Following some heavy defeats to the Catalans, the Copa del Rey triumph must have served as a major confidence boost, although it did not help Quique Sanchez Flores’s side avoid a 3-0 loss to Sevilla in their very next game.

Espanyol, nonetheless, remained in 14th place in the La Liga standings and with some 8 points separating them from the bottom three, the team are not exactly in the danger zone just yet. But, having suffered five heavy defeats on last five trips to Camp Nou, los Periquitos will need to find a way to stay in the game for as long as possible and avoid another hammering that would end their promising Copa del Rey campaign. And while Espanyol won last two away fixtures against Malaga and Levante without conceding, it is perfectly clear that the match at Camp Nou will be a whole different ball game.

Team News

Diego Lopez is likely to be preferred to Pau Lopez in goal, whereas Jose Jurado and Pablo Piatti are back in contention.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Barcelona won last five home games vs Espanyol by 3 or more goals
  • The Catalans scored 4 or more in each of those games
  • Barcelona won 13 of last 14 home games
  • The Catalans scored 2 or more in each of those fixtures
  • Espanyol last won a competitive match at Camp Nou back in 2009

Conclusion

Espanyol were quite fortunate to beat Barcelona’s second string side in the first leg, but we cannot see los Periquitos repeating such a result at Camp Nou. Having recorded five big wins in a row at home vs Espanyol, we expect Barcelona to record yet another comprehensive triumph over their local rivals.

Verdict: Barcelona to win by 3 goals or more

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nemanja Lazarevic


Working as editor-in-chief at Soccernews.com, Nemanja Lazarevic is responsible for organising and managing the team of writers to ensure the content produced on the site meets high industry standards and remains interesting to our readers. As our go-to guy for the football transfer news, he uses an extensive experience in the industry to dig up latest transfer stories from local sources.

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