Barca v Espanyol: Predictions, likely lineups & head to head

La Liga By: Ikponmwosa Umweni | 29/03/2019

Barcelona will look to further extend their considerable lead at the summit of La Liga when they return to action following the international break against local rivals Espanyol on Saturday afternoon.

Blaugrana are flying high at the top of the table, sitting 10 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid as Ernesto Valverde's side are searching to wrap up their eighth league title in 11 years.

Meanwhile, Espanyol will face a huge task when they travel across the city to visit their neighbours this weekend as the Periquitos are 13th in the table equidistant between the European spots and the relegation zone, with nine points the difference in either direction.

Team News

Barcelona could have two key players ready for this weekend's game, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both back in training as Argentina forward picked up on an injury international duty with the national team, while Uruguay striker is back in training following an ankle injury.

However Valverde will still be without Ousmane Dembele, who has a hamstring injury but could be fit in time for Barcelona's Champions League tie against Manchester United on 10 April but Rafinha is also still out, with his torn knee ligament sidelining him for the rest of the season.

For Espanyol, Sergi Darder is suspended following his red card in their defeat to Sevilla. Pablo Piatti and Sergio Garcia are also unavailable for Saturday's derby, with both players ruled out through injury.

Head to Head 

Barcelona recorded a 4-0 victory when the two teams met in the reverse league game earlier this season, while as mentioned, Valverde's side ran out 5-0 winners at Camp Nou last term.

Blaugrana have won each of the last nine league meetings between the two teams at Camp Nou, but Espanyol did record a 2-1 victory away to their rivals in La Liga in February 2009.

Recent Form

Barcelona are in fantastic form, as they sit top of La Liga and have a Champions League quarter-final to look forward to. Their current domestic form is also excellent, and despite their Supercopa de Catalunya defeat to Girona they are on a 16-game league unbeaten run.

On the other hand, Espanyol have been struggling recently. They have one win in their last five games, and haven't won any of their last nine league games away from home- a serious concern as they prepare for a trip to a team with ruthless home form.

Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Coutinho, L Suarez, Messi

Espanyol possible starting lineup: Diego Lopez; Rosales, Naldo, Hermoso, Vila; Wu, V Sanchez, Roca, Granero, Perez; Iglesias

Score prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Espanyol