Four points adrift of Real Madrid with four games to go, Barcelona go into the Catalonia derby against relegation-threatened Espanyol knowing anything but a win will all but hand the title to their eternal rivals.
The Blaugrana have had a topsy-turvy run in La Liga this term but are already guaranteed a place in next season’s Champions League group phase. On the contrary, Espanyol are bottom of the table while their chances of survival look slim, they are still in with a chance of survival and give this a go.
How has this game gone before?
Barcelona head into the 172nd top-flight Derbi Barceloní unbeaten in eight La Liga (LL) games (W5, D3). Having outscored opponents at home in the league this season by over 3.5 goals to one, and winning eight games here despite a ‘-2 handicap’, a clear cut win for the hosts seems likely.
Since their last H2H home league defeat (Feb 2009), Barcelona have won ten straight LL home H2Hs, averaging 3.30 goals scored (GF 33, GA 2) and a winning margin of 3.10 goals. Three of Barcelona’s last four home league matches vs Espanyol have also seen them win both halves and score 3+ second-half goals.
The ‘second-half goals’ theme remains significant, in the context of Espanyol’s preceding LL away defeats recorded in 2020 alone. All have come by a single-goal margin, with the deciding goal consistently scored in the second half.
Despite being currently winless in six (D1, L5), Espanyol have trailed at half time just once since the resumption of football in June (HT: W2, D4, L1). Additionally, three of Espanyol’s last four LL away defeats to see both teams score have seen them bag the opener.
Players to watch: Three of Lionel Messi’s last four H2H goals have come beyond the hour mark. Three were also direct from a free kick, while two served as the final goal in their respective matches – both of which were even-numbered margin wins ‘to-nil’.
Espanyol’s David López gave his side a HT lead in their last away game (L 2-1) – all of his prior goals this term have been headers.
Stat attack: A 3-0 victory for Barcelona will see them end this clash having outscored Espanyol exactly 3:1 across historical LL home H2Hs (current: GF 213, GA 72).
A win for Barcelona would be their 100th vs Espanyol in the Spanish top flight (W99, D38, L34).
Espanyol have scored just one first-half goal across their last 12 LL away H2Hs vs Barcelona.