Barcelona vs Espanyol predictions and match preview for Saturday’s LaLiga fixture. Read on for analysis, team news and predicted lineups ahead of the Catalan derby.
|Date||Saturday 31st December 2022|
|Kick-Off||14:00 (local time)|
Barcelona vs Espanyol Preview
There’s a Barcelona derby on New Year’s Eve in LaLiga with Espanyol travelling to Camp Nou to round off 2022. It’s the first league game for both sides in more than seven weeks with both teams losing some players during the World Cup.
Barcelona were of course much more affected with 16 of their players heading to Qatar, the most of any LaLiga side. However Spain’s early elimination does mean that the likes of Gavi, Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Ferran Torres and Jordi Alba have still had a decent break and should be very much ready to go here in this derby clash.
There was a further boost for Xavi this week with Robert Lewandowski’s suspension lifted pending appeal, much to the annoyance of Espanyol who released an official statement complaining about the matter. That adds an extra layer of spice to this game after Lewandowski saw red in the 2-1 win at Osasuna in Barcelona’s last league fixture. That pushed Barça onto 12 wins for the season and 37 points with only 5 goals conceded, so in LaLiga at least, it was an excellent start for the Catalan giants and they’ll be hungry to keep the momentum going as we resume.
Espanyol meanwhile have not made a good start to life under Diego Martinez. It’s just 2 league wins and only 12 points from 14 games so far for the former Granada boss. A win here could potentially be a huge turning point for Martinez that may be enough to convince any Espanyol supporters who are starting to doubt him, although history is certainly not on the side of Los Pericos when it comes to this fixture.
There have been some positives for Espanyol. Joselu has settled quickly and largely filled the void left by Raul De Tomas when it comes to goal threat and somebody to lead the line. There have also been some encouraging signs from the likes of Brian Olivan and Vinicius Souza who also arrived in the summer but defensively they’ve continued to leak goals with goalkeeping errors also a recurring theme for Martinez’s side.
Team News & Possible Lineups
Possible XI: Ter Stegen – Balde, Garcia, Christensen, Bellerin – Gavi, Busquets, Pedri – Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembele (4-3-3)
Possible XI: Lecomte – Olivan, Cabrera, Calero, Gil – Exposito, Souza – Braithwaite, Darder, Puado – Joselu (4-2-3-1)
Coach: Diego Martinez
Score Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Espanyol
Robert Lewandowski’s sudden availability is obviously huge given the Polish striker has already netted 13 times in LaLiga, 9 more than any of his teammates. Barcelona’s large Spanish national team contingent should also be in good condition after a few weeks off since their exit in Qatar and given their excellent defensive record this season, a comfortable home win does look the most likely outcome here.
PLEASE NOTE – Our LaLiga predictions are not betting tips! No profits are guaranteed if you’re using them to bet on Spanish football. If you are gambling, do so responsibly and never stake more than you can afford to lose. BeGambleAware.