Competition/Round: 2019-20 La Liga, Matchday 35
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Frenkie De Jong, Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Ousmane Dembélé (out)
Espanyol Outs & Doubts: Jonathan Calleri (out)
Date/Time: Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 10pm CET (Barcelona), 9pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 4pm ET, 1pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Thursday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: José Luís Munuera Montero
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others
Following a very impressive performance and victory on the road against Villarreal, two-time defending champions Barcelona are back in action in La Liga with a midweek city derby against Espanyol at the Greatest Stadium on Earth.
There is some real positivity for the first time in a while in the Barça camp. Quique Setién was finally able to deliver on his promise to coach a highly entertaining team that creates loads of chances and scores loads of goals, and to do it on the road against a very good Villarreal team is a real credit to a man who was under real pressure after a couple of terrible weeks of awful performances and even worse results.
The win at Villarreal didn’t fix everything: Barça are still four points behind Real Madrid with four games to go and it’s hard to see — even after further video review — the leaders dropping enough points to gift Barça a third title in a row, but at least there’s some hope that the Catalans can be a real contender for the Champions League in August.
Barça’s mission for the final four league games of the season is playing well consistently and winning convincingly while managing the minutes of the older stars so they’re all in pretty good shape for Europe. Setién seems to have found a formation that fits his best players and allows everyone to shine together, and now it’s all about solidifying that system and building more chemistry.
There’s also one extra incentive to play really well and win big on Wednesday: Espanyol are just one game away from relegation, and Barça can do it with a draw or a win. But just a draw or a hard-fought victory won’t do it: the Blaugrana have to destroy their rivals and send them down to the second division, where they belong, and not have to worry about their ugly football for at least a year.
Let’s do this, Barça. Let’s freaking do this.
Barcelona (4-3-1-2): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Roberto; Messi; Griezmann, Suárez
Espanyol (4-2-3-1): Diego López; Javi López, Bernardo, Cabrera, Dídac; Roca, David López; Melendo, Darder, Embarba; De Tomás
I do not care one bit about the title race on this one. I’m just so ready to laugh at Espanyol and Piqué is gonna get a late goal to show off the Manita and make the whole thing even more perfect: 5-0 to the best team in Catalonia, and bye-bye to the worst!