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La Liga: RCD Espanyol vs FC Barcelona: Match Preview

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A preview of Saturday's La Liga clash between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol

Alex Caparros

Barcelona will be looking to maintain the pressure on league leaders Atletico Madrid on Saturday, as they travel across Catalunya to face city rivals RCD Espanyol knowing that a win would temporarily take them top of La Liga. After Real Madrid slipped up against Sevilla, the Blaugrana are arguably back in pole position in the race for the title -- regardless of league position, it's tough to argue against a line-up that can boast the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Atletico Madrid - for all their quality - cannot boast that kind of talent and that's why many predict Los Colchoneros will eventually drop out of the reckoning with Barça taking the foothold. Irrespective of Diego Costa, Arda Turan and the rest of their squad, there are few individuals that are capable of handling the challenge and stepping up against the Blaugrana.

After all, Atleti will likely reliqiuish top spot at some stage and will almost certainly need to enter the Camp Nou on the final day of the season knowing that a result will allow them to take control of La Liga: a tall order, and one that Atleti seem ill-prepared to deal with.

TEAM NEWS

BARCELONA

Xavi returns to the reckoning after missing the midweek win over Celta Vigo, Victor Valdes has probably played his final match in a Barça jersey and will be replaced by Jose Manuel Pinto while the remainder of the squad is kept waiting in anticipation ahead of their UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg with league leaders, Atletico Madrid.

ESPANYOL

Returning to winning ways with a 2-1 midweek win over Malaga, Javier Aguirre's side are an inconsistent bunch, but with pride on the line, we can expect a committed display from our rivals.

FORM GUIDE

Barcelona: WLWWWW

Espanyol: LDWLDW

LAST MEETING

FC Barcelona 1-0 RCD Espanyol - 1st November 2013 - La Liga

Alexis Sanchez grabbed a second half winner to extend Barcelona's impressive (and virtually flawless) start to the La Liga campaign

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): Pinto; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Neymar

RCD Espanyol (4-2-3-1): Casilla; Lopez, Moreno, Colotto, Fuentes; Lopez, Sanchez; Pizzi, Garcia, Simao; Stuani

MATCH PREDICTION

An easy away victory 4-1 Barça.