*Points and positions and the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2018-19 La Liga, Matchday 15
Barcelona Outs and Doubts: Arthur, Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto, Malcom, Sergi Samper, Rafinha (out)
Espanyol Outs and Doubts: Sergio García, Naldo (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, December 8, 2018, 8.45pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 7.45pm GMT (UK), 2.45pm ET, 11.45am PT (USA), 1.15am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: RCDE Stadium, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Eleven Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), others
How to stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), others
Following a very comfortable victory over Third Division side Cultural Leonesa to guarantee a place in the Copa del Rey Round of 16, Barcelona return to La Liga action with what promises to be a very difficult Catalan Derby against Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium.
The Blaugrana are back at the top of the table thanks to a Sevilla draw last week, and the champions are now looking to put together a winning streak and really establish themselves as the favorites for the league title. Espanyol are contenders for Europe this season, which sounds ridiculous since they’re a joke of a club, but their team is no joke.
Manager Rubi has them playing very good football with a strong defense, a good midfield and a striker on fire in Borja Iglesias. Plus, Espanyol love to make things tough and annoy every Barça player and fan, so it’s impossible to expect an easy game on Saturday. But Barça are more than good enough to win and stay top of the league.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suárez, Coutinho
Espanyol (4-3-3): Diego López; Javi López, David López, Hermoso, Dídac; Darder, Roca, Granero; Pérez, Iglesias, Piatti
I would love it if we just smashed them, but I just think it’s going to be really, really, really tough. Any win is a good win in this one: 3-1 Barça.