Verdict: Barcelona win
Best Odds: 7/10
Knowing that they can wrap up this season’s La Liga crown on Sunday night, Barcelona will make the trip to bitter local rivals Espanyol.
Starting with the hosts, while Espanyol might have claimed a crucial 1-0 victory at home against Getafe when signing off April, Luis Garcia’s men came immediately crashing back down to earth. Eventually suffering an action-packed 3-2 loss away at Sevilla last time out, the Periquitos find themselves at the heart of a real relegation scrap. Opening up this weekend’s fixtures sat three points adrift of safety and tipped as a leading contender to be hit with a Segunda return, Espanyol have recorded just a single win from any of their last 10 straight La Liga appearances. In fact, with that nightmare run of form stemming all the way back to February 25th, Garcia’s downbeat squad have also mustered just four points on that 10-match rut. Gaining a reputation for their defensive issues this season, the former Internacional boss will be more than aware that his side faces another huge challenge when their bitter local rivals visit the RCDE Stadium on Sunday night.
After serving a one-match suspension last week and missing Espanyol’s 3-2 loss against Sevilla, ex-Barcelona forward Martin Braithwaite will make a full return against his former employers here. However, Garcia’s side look set to once again be without the duo of Jose Gragera and 20-year-old Gori.
Notching 14 La Liga strikes this season and gaining plenty of plaudits, Spanish international Joselu will spearhead Espanyol’s attack on Sunday night. The one-time Stoke misfit will likely be joined in the final third by the returning Braithwaite.
As for the visitors, only continuing on what has been a stellar domestic romp this season, Barcelona will know that they’re just 90 minutes away from getting their hands on a first La Liga crown since 2019. Last seen putting in another professional display as they claimed a 1-0 win against Osasuna on May 2nd, Xavi’s squad have almost been unstoppable while on domestic duties this year. Opening this weekend’s fixtures holding a remarkable 13-point buffer at the top of the table, the Spanish icons are riding what has been quite the wave of momentum on either side of the World Cup’s winter break. Along with signing off April with a routine 4-0 romp at home against Real Betis, Sunday’s guests have lost just a trio of their 33 La Liga appearances this season. Only continuing to gain a string of praise, Xavi’s young squad will travel across Catalonia looking to make yet another top-flight statement at the RCDE Stadium.
Still dealing with a recent muscle injury and not making a domestic appearance since April 16th, the versatile Sergi Roberto will likely once again miss out here. However, now making a couple of cameo appearances after returning from a long-term hamstring injury, Ousmane Dembele is expected to play some role at the RCDE Stadium.
Coming off the bench and bagging that late winner against Osasuna last week, left-back Jordi Alba will be hoping for a full recall on Sunday night.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two Catalonia rivals met for their reverse La Liga showdown on New Year’s Eve, Espanyol and Barcelona played out a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp.
- However, the runaway Spanish leaders are unbeaten in each of their last 10 straight meetings against Sunday’s hosts – a run that stems back to January 2018.
- Espanyol have managed to record just a single La Liga victory from any of their last 10 appearances – a run that has seen them muster just four points.
- Barcelona have suffered just a single away defeat against the Periquitos since way back in January 2007.
- Xavi’s side have conceded just 11 La Liga strikes in their 33 appearances this season.
Knowing that they can secure a first La Liga crown since 2019 and also snatch Catalonia bragging rights at the same time, Barcelona will undoubtedly be in a real party atmosphere this weekend. Within 90 minutes of recapturing their Spanish title, Sunday’s guests have only continued on a famous domestic romp this season. Losing just a trio of their 33 appearances, Barca will be looking to cash in on their bitter local rivals. Last seen getting hit with a 3-2 loss away at Sevilla and with just a single La Liga win to their name since the end of February, Espanyol will be more than aware that they face a huge challenge here. Remarkably suffering just a single loss when traveling across Catalonia since way back in January 2007, we are backing Xavi’s side to finally complete their title charge here.
Verdict: Barcelona win
Best Odds: 7/10
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