FC Barcelona (1st, 66pts) vs RCD Espanyol (13th, 34pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday
Competition/Round: 2018-19 La Liga, Matchday 29
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ousmane Dembélé, Jasper Cillessen, Rafinha, Jeison Murillo, Jean-Clair Todibo, Thomas Vermaelen (out)
Espanyol Outs & Doubts: Sergi Darder, Facundo Ferreyra, Javi Puado (out)
Date/Time: Saturday, March 30, 2019, 4.15pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 3.15pm GMT (UK), 11.15am ET, 8.15am PT (USA), 8.45pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA, Canada, Spain), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India), others
How to stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA, Canada, Spain), others
After the last international break of the 2018-19 season, Barcelona return to action and start the home stretch of the campaign with a huge Catalan Derby against Espanyol at Camp Nou. Before the break, Barça had a dream weekend with a dominant win away to Real Betis combined with Atlético Madrid losing at Athletic Bilbao, which gave the Blaugrana a 10-point lead with 10 matches to go in La Liga.
The title is very much in Barça’s hands, and this week can pretty much clinch the championship: after the Espanyol game, Barça travel to Villarreal and play Atlético Madrid at the Greatest Stadium on Earth. If Barça win all three games, they’ll be at least 13 points clear at the top of the table with seven games to go and a very favorable schedule the rest of the way, which would give the team a chance to focus solely on Manchester United, and then (most likely) Liverpool in the Champions League.
To put it simply, the Espanyol game starts a three-game week that will win Barça La Liga if they get nine points. The first hurdle is a tough one to jump since Espanyol lost 4-0 to Barça at home earlier this season and are hungry for revenge, which means they’ll be extremely physical and borderline violent at times. It’s the only way they know how to win against Barça, and there’s no doubt they’ll try again.
The champs need to be focused and careful. A win is big, but staying healthy is also important. But they love to beat Espanyol themselves, and they know how big this week is. This should be a great game.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suárez, Coutinho
Espanyol (4-4-2): López; Rosales, Naldo, Hermoso, Dídac; Melendo, Sánchez, Granero, Roca; Iglesias, Wu Lei
Sometimes, and it’s very few times, beating Espanyol feels better than winning El Clásico for me. This is one of those times, since the win means a lot for the title race and they’ll come to Camp Nou looking for revenge. Let’s give them another reason to be angry and sad: 4-1 Barça.