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Barcelona head into the derby in the best shape possible

Great game in prospect

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s amazing what a win can do for the confidence isn’t it?

A few short games ago, and culers would likely have been approaching the match against Espanyol with a little trepidation.

After all, no one really wants to lose against their cross-city rivals, even if the possibility of an upset happening generally appears remote.

Ahead of the fixture Los Periquitos aren’t in the greatest form. In fact, they haven’t won in any competition this year.

Whereas Barca are starting to get their act together under Xavi.

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It will be a while yet before the Blaugranes can play consistently at the level they showed against Atletico Madrid, and the team are still a little rough around the edges, but the green shoots are there.

Xavi has started to get everyone to gel, and each player appears to know their role perfectly.

Just look at the way in which the XI kept the ball for long periods last weekend. It was a joy to watch at times, with the goals merely underscoring the dominance of the performance.

Possession will be key again for the game at Espanyol. A team that will almost certainly already be devoid of confidence will see their heads drop quickly if they’re unable to gain a foothold in the match.

That said, the opposition always seem to raise their game for the derby so, when chances arrive, they must be taken too.

It would be a surprise to see the hosts start with the attacking 4-2-3-1 that they used against Athletic Club last time out, albeit an overly defensive 5-3-2 might not suit them either.

Vicente Moreno needs to be able to strike a perfect balance but against a Barcelona side with their tails up, that might not be easy to achieve.

Certainly, Sergi Darder isn’t used to working back to help his left back, but if Adria Pedrosa is left alone against Adama, there’ll only be one outcome.

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fortunately for the visitors, the right wing won’t be the only line of attack even if it will be the most obvious.

Barca have a genuine threat right across the front three again now, so playing centrally or in from the left could bring just as many dividends.

If results go against Espanyol elsewhere in the table, they could find themselves just a couple of places above the relegation zone at the end of play.

That in itself should force them to come out and play, and that’ll play right into Barcelona’s hands.