FC Barcelona Versus Espanyol Team News, Preview, Starting Line Up

FC Barcelona host cross-city rivals Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Sunday in La Liga and can retake a two-point lead over Real Madrid with a win at Camp Nou.

The Blaugrana currently trail Los Blancos by a point at the summit after a late double from Karim Benzema sunk Real Valladolid on Thursday.

With a full squad at his disposal, however, Barca’s first team coach Xavi Hernandez said that his men are “motivated after a month and a half without competition, especially the staff”.

“Espanyol are very motivated on the day of the derby, they are working very well defensively and I think they have fewer points than they deserve,” Xavi added.

Expected to start for the former midfielder is goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and a flat back four of Jordi Alba, Marcus Christensen, World Cup finalist Jules Kounde and Alejandre Balde.

In a midfield three, Busquets, who has been linked with a move away from the club to join Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr, will provide pivot support to Pedri and Frenkie de Jong who has displaced Gavi after a fine Qatar 2022 campaign for the Netherlands.

Less can be said about Ferran Torres on the left wing, but he is still expected to get the nod as will a Robert Lewandowski meant to be suspended and Ousmane Dembele.

Confined to the bench are the likes of Raphinha, Memphis Depay and Ansu Fati, who are still struggling to convince Xavi that they deserve to form part of his first XI.

Of the trio, Memphis arguably enjoyed the best World Cup as the Dutch were eliminated by eventual winners Argentina on penalties in the quarterfinals.

Raphinha’s Brazil were eliminated at the same stage with Manchester United youngster Antony impressing far more on the right wing.

As for Fati, it is thought that he was the member of the 26-man Spain squad that now departed head coach Luis Enrique hinted he would have probably not taken without naming the player.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomsanderson/2022/12/31/fc-barcelona-versus-espanyol-team-news-preview-starting-line-up/