League leaders Barcelona can seal the La Liga title with a win over 19th-placed Espanyol, who are struggling for survival in the top flight.
Espanyol are 19th in the league, three points behind 17th-placed Valencia ahead of the game against Barcelona. The home team are in desperate need of a positive result to keep their hopes of survival in La Liga intact. Meanwhile, the visitors have a chance to seal the league title with a win in this fixture.
Espanyol are facing a worrying situation as they have won only one of their last ten matches in Spain’s top-flight and have dropped to the 19th position in the league table.
Though they are only three points behind 17th-placed Valencia, another poor result would put them in a vulnerable position. Espanyol has struggled with their home form, claiming only 17 points from 16 matches and they have not beaten Barcelona in the league since February 2009.
On the other hand, Barcelona are in an excellent position and have the chance to be crowned as champions for the 2022-23 campaign. With an impressive record of 26 wins, four draws and three losses, they have collected 82 points from their 33 matches.
They have been helped by their absence from Europe and are entering this match with successive home wins over Real Betis and Osasuna. Though they have lost three times on their travels in the league this season, they still have the best away record, claiming 37 points from 16 matches and winning 12 of those fixtures.
In the reverse fixture between the two, Espanyol managed to hold off Barcelona to a 1-1 draw. And, they will be hoping to pull something similar. However, it won’t be that easy this time around. Meanwhile, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture and tries to predict the tactics they will use.
Team News & Tactics
Luis Garcia will be without the services of Jose Gragera, who is out injured. Meanwhile, Espanyol do have a major boost as former Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite is all set to return to the squad.
🔴 #EspanyolMEDIA | 🎥 Recupera la roda de premsa de Luis García prèvia a l'#EspanyolBarça #CamíDeLaSalvació
— RCD Espanyol de Barcelona (@RCDEspanyol) May 13, 2023
Garcia is expected to start with the 5-3-2 formation in this fixture. Fernando Pacheco will start in the goal. Oscar Gil and Brian Olivan will be the wing-backs. Cesar Montes, Sergi Gomez and Leandro Cabrera will be the three central defenders. They will have the difficult task of keeping Robert Lewandowski quiet.
The back three will have the support of Gil and Olivan who will be featuring out wide. Denis Suarez, Sergi Darder and Javi Puado will take charge in the centre of the park. Meanwhile, Braithwaite is likely to pair up with Joselu in attack.
Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Pacheco; Gil, Montes, Gomez, Cabrera, Olivan; Puado, Suarez, Darder; Joselu, Braithwaite
Xavi Hernandez has no fresh injury concerns ahead of this fixture. With Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembele back in the mix, they have a full-strength squad for this away game.
🔊 Xavi: "The time is near. We really want to win LaLiga. It is a very important step for the team and for myself. Closing off this season with a League title and a Super Cup will be great" pic.twitter.com/fKwUD874Bc
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 13, 2023
The Spanish manager will go ahead with the 4-3-3 formation, where Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be in goal. Jules Kounde and Alejandro Balde will feature as the full-backs. Meanwhile, Andreas Christensen and Ronald Araujo will pair up in the heart of the defence.
Sergio Busquets, who is all set to leave Barcelona at the end of the season after 18 long years, will feature as the holding midfielder. He will have the support of Frenkie de Jong and Pedri.
Dembele could feature in the starting XI after almost three months. The Frenchman could start as the right-winger while Gavi is likely to feature as the left-winger. And, La Liga’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski will be leading the line.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; F de Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembele, Lewandowski, Gavi
- Barcelona have a strong record against Espanyol, winning 36 out of the last 61 meetings between the two.
- Espanyol have been winless in their last 25 matches against the Catalan giants in La Liga.
- Barcelona have been unbeaten in their last 14 away games in the league against Espanyol.
- The Catalan giants have won 101 out of 175 matches against the home team in La Liga.
- Barcelona have failed to win in their last two away matches in La Liga.
Player to Watch
Robert Lewandowski is undoubtedly one of the most lethal strikers in world football. The Polish international is leading the goalscoring charts in La Liga with 19 goals in just 29 matches. He also has six assists to his name.
Lewandowski is a player that opponents will need to keep a close eye on. His clinical finishing, intelligent movement, and aerial prowess make him a constant threat in the box, and he has the ability to change the course of a game with a single moment of brilliance.
Espanyol 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona will enter this match as the clear favourites, given their superior form and league position. With the possibility of clinching the title, they will be highly motivated to secure the win.
However, Espanyol will be fighting for their survival in La Liga and could put up a strong resistance. Still, considering their poor home record this season, it is likely that Barcelona will come out on top in the end. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 Barcelona win.
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