Football

Three things that will shape that Catalan derby

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Barcelona host cross-town rivals Espanyol at Camp Nou this weekend in what will be the second Catalan derby of the season, after the teams met a few weeks previously in the Catalan Cup Final.

On that occasion Barca played a virtual second string but still managed to beat their opponents on penalties.

It continued a record that hasn't seen the Periquitos defeat their more celebrated rivals for five years, and only twice in the last 10. During that time Barca have been victorious on 16 occasions.

Let's take a look at three things that will shape the outcome of this one...

Home advantage

Camp Nou can be a fortress at the best of times, and the Blaugrana definitely have the indian sign over their neighbours.

A solitary win in 2009, when it has to be said that Espanyol had a far superior side to that which they have presently, is the only success for the away side in the last decade.

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Only 14 goals scored in their 13 games so far this season is a clue as to where the problems for Sergio's team lies.

A more defensive performance may be what's required here, a scrappy draw perhaps the best the visitors can hope for.

One eye on the Champions League?

If Espanyol are going to have any chance at all of pulling off one of the shock results of the season, then it will be at the expense of a weakened Blaugrana.

Just three days after this fixture, Barca host Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League for the right to finish as group winners, and potentially an easier tie in the round of 16.

With that in mind, Luis Enrique may well give fringe and youth players the opportunity to get some minutes under their belts.

It will still be a tough ask, but it will give the visitors something to hold onto.

Lionel Messi's form

Should Luis Enrique decide to stick with his tried and tested for what is one of the games of the season as far as both teams are concerned, then the form of Lionel Messi will be decisive.

Two hat-tricks in the last three outings, and three man-of-the-match awards in the last five games, is indicative of a player in his best form.

The Argentine continues to destroy records at will and produce necessary excellence in whatever position he's asked to play. Espanyol have their work cut out to stop him matching the four goals he scored in this fixture back in 2012.

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Topics:
La Liga
Football
Barcelona

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