Sunday, June 16, 2024

Espanyol 2-4 Barcelona: What Were The Key Talking Points As Barca Wrap Up A First La Liga Crown Since 2019? 

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, La Liga 15 May 2023

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With all eyes falling on Catalonia this weekend, Barcelona wrapped up a first La Liga crown since 2019 as they secured an action-packed 4-2 win against bitter local rivals Espanyol on Sunday night.

Running rampant during the first-half and putting the cherry on top of what has been a stellar domestic flurry this season, a Robert Lewandowski brace and Alejandro Balde helped Xavi’s side breeze their way to a routine 3-0 lead when heading into the interval.

With Spanish international defender Jules Kounde eventually wrapping up a season-defining victory at the RCDE Stadium, Barca also cruised their way to Catalonia bragging rights with another trademark La Liga romp.

Although Espanyol might have been desperate to delay Barca’s title coronation on Sunday night, Luis Garcia’s men were completely blown away during the first 45 and the Periquitos remain at the heart of a relegation scrap.

While the duo of Joselu and Javi Puado might have bagged Espanyol a pair of consolation second-half strikes here, they have still just claimed a single victory from any of their last 11 top-flight appearances and they sit four points adrift of breaking out of the drop zone.

On a night when Barcelona both reclaimed their domestic crown and also handed their Catalonia neighbours another relegation blow, we have taken a look at the key talking points from Sunday’s derby showdown.

The perfect way for Barca to complete their domestic romp

While Barcelona might have come under more scrutiny prior to the World Cup’s winter break as they suffered another public European nightmare, Xavi’s side have only continued on a La Liga romp this season.

Although the Nou Camp hierarchy might still be dealing with a long list of fanatical issues, those distractions certainly haven’t affected a Barca squad that have remarkably lost just a trio of top-flight appearances this year.

Storming their way to a first domestic crown since 2019 and making even more La Liga history on Sunday night, the Spanish icons really couldn’t have wished for a better way to complete their title romp.

Travelling across Catalonia and still not suffering a single loss away at their bitter local rivals since back in 2007, Barcelona would have always earmarked Sunday’s trip to the RCDE Stadium as the dream occasion to reclaim their Spanish crown.

With a clear party atmosphere in their camp after storming to a 3-0 lead at the half-time break, it is no secret that the mood in Xavi’s camp is at the highest it has been in recent memory.

It was always going to be Lewandowski

Although Barcelona might have gained a reputation from across Spain for their defensive resolve this season, it is Xavi’s latest attacking icon who has played a crucial role in their domestic success in 2023.

While fans around the Nou Camp might be dreaming of an emotional Lionel Messi return this summer, Lewandowski has only continued to prove that he can be the main man in Catalonia.

Shocking almost everyone in Europe last year as the Polish record-breaker secured a blockbuster switch from Bayer Munich, Lewandowski certainly hasn’t taken any time in adjusting to life in Spain’s top-flight.

Bagging yet another La Liga brace on Sunday night after producing a pair of first-half finishes, the 34-year-old has also now recorded four domestic strikes in as many appearances.

With it almost fitting that Barca’s new attacking talisman would drag them over the finish line here, Lewandowski will now have his sights firmly set on making his own individual piece of history this month.

Now sat on 19 La Liga goals this season and still rightfully regarded as one of Europe’s most lethal number nines, the 140-cap international sits firmly in pole position to claim Spain’s Golden Boot.

Another Catalonia nightmare for Espanyol

While Espanyol might have claimed a crucial 1-0 victory at home against Getafe when signing off April, it appears that was nothing more than a minor boost for the Periquitos.

Showing a string of domestic issues this season, it is no secret that Garcia’s side are tipped as a landslide relegation pick and are seeking a minor La Liga miracle this month.

Although Espanyol might have eventually left the RCDE Stadium with a pair of second-half consolation strikes to show for their troubles, Sunday’s hosts have had little to cheer about in what has been a nightmare La Liga campaign.

Mustering just a single win from any of their last 11 straight La Liga appearances – a run that stems all the way back to a 2-1 win against Mallorca on February 25th – the ex-Internacional boss has struggled to find any kind of stability since arriving at the RCDE Stadium.

Sat four points adrift of safety and with just a quartet of top-flight appearances remaining this season, Sunday’s first-half display almost epitomises Espanyol’s issues this year.

Match Report

Espanyol: Pacheco, Gil, Montes, Gomez, Cabrera, Olivan, Melamed, Darder, Suarez, Braithwaite, Joselu

Subs: Pedrosa, Calero, Puado, Exposito, Koleosho

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Raphinha, Lewandowski, Gavi

Subs: Fati, Dembele, Alonso, Alba, Kessie

Goals: Espanyol: Puado (73’), Joselu (90+2’) – Barcelona: Lewandowski (11’, 40’), Balde (20’), Kounde (53’)

Yellow Cards: Espanyol: Darder – Barcelona: Javi, Kounde, Alba

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz


Tom Dunstan

Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan



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