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FC Barcelona News: 7 December 2014; Barca Ready for Derby, 18 Players Named in Squad for Espanyol Clash

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David Ramos/Getty Images

Player list for today's derby | FC Barcelona
The following 18 were chosen: Marc-André Ter Stegen , Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández, Pedro Rodríguez, Andrés Iniesta, Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Rafinha, Claudio Bravo, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Adriano Correia, Dani Alves, Jérémy Mathieu, and Munir El Haddadi. Left off the list were Jordi Masip, Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Douglas, Sergi Roberto and Thomas Vermaelen.

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol: Derby Sunday | FC Barcelona
And what better way to celebrate the midpoint of this gruelling gauntlet of clashes than with Sunday's ever important derby matchup with RCD Espanyol at 5.00 PM CET at Camp Nou. Although the two clubs are separated by a gulf of 17 points in the standings — Barça are currently third with 31 points while Espanyol are 12th with 14 points — the battle is expected to be, as always, a tooth and claw flight for bragging rights in the Catalan capital.

Luis Enrique looking forward to special match | FC Barcelona
After being photographed with Sergio González, Luis Enrique appeared before the press to discuss tomorrow’s game with Espanyol (5.00 PM CET), saying that "derbies are always more intense games than usual … These games have special connotations, but there is no violence involved."

Xavi, 29 League derbies | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona face Espanyol on Sunday at 5.00 PM CET in what promises to be a special game for Xavi Hernández, who is set to appear in his 30th city derby. He was still officially a Barça B player when Louis Van Gaal played him for the full ninety minutes of a 2-1 win at the Olympic Stadium in the 1998/99 season, his first ever experience of the fixture at the highest level.

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol: Did you know? | FC Barcelona
Barça have won 91 league matches against Espanyol, more than any other opponent in the history of the competition. Barça have won 62 home fixtures against their local rivals, with 9 draws and 9 wins for Espanyol.

Luis Enrique and Sergio González meet before the derby | FC Barcelona
Luis Enrique and the man in charge of Espanyol, Sergio González, met this morning at pitch number 1 at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. It is a local tradition for the respective managers to do this the day before league derbies, and to appear before the media in a photo session. The two clubs face each other at the Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon at 5.00 PM CET.

Ivan Rakitic: Playing for FC Barcelona is unbelievable | FC Barcelona
"For sure I'll never forget the first steps at Basel and Schalke" he said. "And for sure the most important time for me was the two and a half years at Sevilla. And now to take this step to FC Barcelona is unbelievable. … It's different. I don't think people in Barcelona would ever be happy just to win the Europa League. And I want to win more titles and I know this is maybe the biggest club in the world and the players are of a different quality."

Don't mention the dive - Ronaldo records soured by his antics - Goal.com
Madrid fans had been furious with referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco on his last visit to the Santiago Bernabeu, when he gave Barcelona two penalties and sent off Sergio Ramos as the Catalans claimed a 4-3 win last March. But this time he was on their side as he pointed to the spot and Ronaldo slotted home to give Real a lead it had barely deserved before the interval.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo breaks La Liga hat trick record - ESPN FC
Cristiano Ronaldo scored all of Real Madrid's goals in a 3-0 win against Celta Vigo on Saturday, breaking La Liga's long-standing hat trick record with his 23rd for Real Madrid. His third goal was also his 200th of his La Liga career -- a feat he achieved in just 178 games, faster than any other player.

La Liga match report: Elche 0 Atletico Madrid 2 | Sky Sports Football
Atletico Madrid made light work of a Primera Division trip to Elche, beating Fran Escriba's struggling side 2-0 to record their fifth consecutive win in all competitions. Nineteen-year old defender Jose Maria Gimenez scored an impressive first goal for Atletico to put the visitors in front after 16 minutes, and Mario Mandzukic then doubled the advantage early in the second half.

La Liga match report: Athletic Bilbao 0 Cordoba 1 | Sky Sports Football
The Algerian forward capitalised on a weak pass from Ander Iturraspe to break the deadlock midway through the first half and the Andalusians passed up several opportunities to add to their lead, but then had to survive a late onslaught from Athletic. However, Miroslav Djukic's side stood firm to record their first win in Spain's top flight for 42 years, which sees them move on to 10 points for the season.

La Liga match report: Deportivo La Coruna 0 Malaga 1 | Sky Sports Football
Sergi Darder's first-half strike was enough for Malaga as Deportivo La Coruna's winless run continued with a 1-0 defeat at Riazor. Deportivo came into the match in the bottom three after five matches without a win and although they may feel unfortunate not to get a share of the spoils, they simply were not clinical enough in front of goal.