Welcome back to TalkBarca. Our topic for today is the Match Preview of Espanyol vs Barcelona. La Liga action is back and Barcelona is set to travel away from home to play the exciting fixture against Espanyol. It’s a local derby and it has always been an anticipated fixture. We ended 2019, with a win against Alaves. It was not just a simple win, we completely destroyed Alaves. All our forwards registered their names on the scoresheet and we ended up taking lead over our rivals, Real Madrid.
Barcelona is now the clear leader of La Liga and have a 2 points lead from Real Madrid. Furthermore, Barcelona is currently on an unbeaten streak, and we must look forward to keeping this momentum. We need to keep winning games in order to ensure that we stay at the top, and eventually win the La Liga.
Espanyol is at the bottom of the La Liga table. However, this does not change the fact that they are really strong at home, and they have got the players who can trouble us. We must not underestimate them considering their position in the league. We must focus on playing good football, and staying on that pitch with the right mentality. So, let’s start our Match Preview of Espanyol vs Barcelona.
Espanyol Vs Barcelona Match Preview:
Kick Off Time:
Espanyol vs Barcelona will kick off at 09:00 PM as per local time which is the perfect time for a tough local derby. You can check the kick off timings for your respective region in the following image:
Squad For Espanyol vs Barcelona:
The club issued names of the players traveling away for the fixture. These players include:
- Goalkeepers: Neto and Iñaki Peña
- Defenders: Nélson Semedo, Gerard Piqué, Clément Lenget, Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, and Junior Firpo.
- Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie De Jong, and Arturo Vidal.
- Forwards: Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Carles Pérez, and Ansu Fati.
Expected Starting Lineup:
Ter Stegen is out due to injury. After a hectic season, MATS finally got his deserved vacation and is going to remain out of squad for some time due to an injury. He has been phenomenal for us. Every day, we talk about how good he is. He has truly performed a lot this season and I hope that he really continues like this. Ter Stegen is short of clean sheets due to our miserable defense. However, he has been there for us and has saved us from dropping points.
We really need him to recover soon. This is probably Ter Stegen’s best season, and now is the time to show everyone that he deserves to be the best goalkeeper in the world. As Ter Stegen is out, Neto is going to start in his place. Neto is going to get his debut in La Liga for Barcelona. I am not worried about our Goalkeeping slot because Neto is the best backup keeper anyone could ask for. To be honest, I think Neto has the quality to play as a starter for any big club. Let’s see how he performs.
Jordi Alba is the most likely starter at the Left Back. Jordi has a lot of football in him and he is one of our most senior players. However, he just needs to show this on the pitch. Jordi has been a bit loose and sluggish lately. We certainly don’t want that from him. He is the type of player who makes things easier not only for his fellow defenders but also for the attackers as well.
We saw him helping Griezmann a lot of times in many different games especially when he was heavily struggling at the Left Wing position. Jordi used to come to the wing to deliver crosses and cutbacks which allowed Griezmann to penetrate centrally and involve more in the attack.
All in all, Jordi Alba is a gem. We need to give him confidence, and it is now the time of the season when he really needs to tie his laces tight and give it all for the team. Roberto is going to start on the Right Back. However, I do think Semedo is a better choice. Semedo is young and really fast. He can bring energy into the defense which Roberto is lacking. However, Roberto looks to be the more obvious choice. Roberto needs to find the rhythm in his game again.
I do give him some credit because sometimes Valverde asks him to play in the midfield, and sometimes he has to stay at the back to defend. As a player, this can be really confusing and you can lose your mindset. However, as I said earlier it is now the time to really stand up for the team. We have got all the momentum we need to win the La Liga. We just need to capitalize on it.
Pique and Lenglet are going to partner up once again to start in the heart of the defense. Pique was not able to perform well in the previous game, and so did Lenglet. They both need to find the correct rhythm for their game and they need to develop the chemistry which is lacking in the central defending area. Both of our Center Backs are World Class without any doubt. They just need to show this on the pitch. Especially, Pique needs to focus completely on football the crucial time of the season has just begun.
I would really like to see De Jong, Busquests, and Vidal starting in the midfield. De Jong and Busquests can be that pressing asset while Vidal can be an attacking threat. By now it is really clear how good De Jong is. As a matter of fact, De Jong has been our most consistent midfielder in the previous month. He seems to be so calm even in pressure situations and that is one of the best things about him. He has got a magical first touch and his passing sense is World Class.
When De Jong pairs up with Busquests, things get really bad for the opposition. Busquests is a World Class passer of the ball and he has been our unsung hero for many years. De Jong is, in fact, a major long term replacement for Sergio Busquests. Their style of play is really similar, and both create a magical midfield duo.
On the other hand, Vidal is more of an energetic element in our midfield. He runs across the pitch like a warhorse. Most importantly, he is always looking to regain possession. He also joins the attack quite often which further strengthens our counter-attacks. Vidal has a great goal scoring skill as well. We have seen him bang in some good goals from time to time. I am pretty sure that there is a lot more to Vidal’s game then we have seen until now.
The attack is really sorted for us. We have Messi, Suarez, and Griezmann in the attack or MSG as we call it nowadays. I really love the sound of it. I am actually really happy with the way our attack is performing at the moment. Messi is in good form, and he just scored his 50th goal of the year. He is also a great playmaker as we already know. We really need Messi to shine especially in the Champions League. Last season, he promised us that the Champions League is going to come back to Camp Nou. We need to see that. We need him to do this for us. Barcelona needs to win the Champions League.
Griezmann is also progressing really well. He is finally getting to know our philosophy. Most importantly, he is finding ways to be comfortable on the Left Wing. We really want him to continue with the same good form. Furthermore, we want Valverde to use him in his preferred position because only then he is going to be able to create the right impact.
Suarez is doing great as well. He is scoring goals consistently now, and he is finding his long lost form. Suarez ended 2019 as Man Of The Match as he provided 3 assists, and scored a goal. All in all, our attack is really on point at the moment and it has to stay like this if we want to keep winning games
The bench is really solid for us. Rakitic will be there as a rotation option. Semedo, Umtiti, and Firpo will also be on the bench to provide defensive cover. Lastly, we have Ansu Fati and Carlos Perez to ignite our attack in the later stages of the game.
Let’s preview our tactics of the match because we need to be tactically on point if we want a dominating win. Our strong players need to make sure that they are always present with our weaker players so that we don’t leave any loopholes and chances for errors. For example, our central defenders are not in the best of forms, and we know this. Therefore, De Jong or Busquests must be present in the box in case of counter-attacks. Furthermore, our fullbacks on the flanks have to make sure that their fitness level is on point because both of our wingers like to operate from the central areas.
Messi is surely going to play centrally and Griezmann is also likely to cut in very often. Therefore, defenders must be there to whip in crosses or cutbacks. Our playing philosophy does not consist of many long balls, therefore we have to depend on our defenders to provide cut back passes to attackers.
Our midfielders must be present centrally. It is really probable that our fullbacks and wingers are going to keep the sidelines secure. Therefore, midfielders must not spread out much wide. Midfielders need to make sure that they work centrally, and block through balls. Espanyol is going to depend heavily on their attackers. Therefore, midfielders must be on their toes to block through balls.
I don’t have much to say about the attack because the chemistry between Messi, and Suarez is already amazing. Jordi Alba also had a really good relation with Messi and knows the right place where Messi is going to play a ball. If we follow the right tactics and work to maintain possession, Espanyol does not stand a chance.
Espanyol is struggling at the moment and we are in a really good form. Therefore, I am obviously going ahead with a win for Barcelona. So, I am going to predict Espanyol 0 – Barcelona 3.
As a fan, I really hope that we see entertaining football, and the match is worth it for us. I hope Valverde does not mess anything up because we are very used to bottling easier games due to his stupid tactics. So, this is it guys, for the Match Preview of Espanyol vs Barcelona. Do you agree with our lineups and score predictions? What are your thoughts on our Match Preview? Let us know in the comments section below. Until Next Time, Visca El Barca!