Competition: La Liga 2019/20
Matchday: Matchday 35
Date and Time: Wednesday, July 8, 10 pm CET
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Referee: Jose Luis Munuera Montero
We’re back again in action with a cracker of a game: The Catalan Derby. 2nd place Barça go up against last-placed Espanyol in the midweek in La Liga. The Blaugrana will be looking to close the 4 point gap to leaders and rivals Real Madrid. Over the weekend, Barcelona beat Villarreal 4-1 with wonder-goals from Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati, while Espanyol lost 1-0 to a Jonathan Silva goal from Leganes.
3 goals and an own-goal from the forwards Fati, Suarez and Griezmann and an own goal coming from Pau Torres meant that Barcelona temporarily closed the gap to Los Merengues, who then picked up a win after a penalty from Sergio Ramos. A great showing against Villarreal put the players in huge confidence after a Setien masterclass. The team looked like Setien promised: Dominating on the ball and create buckets of chances and scoring goals which made for good entertainment. Doing all of this on the road against a team like Villarreal who were in 5th place eases a bit of the pressure on the manager after a huge saga of him continuing next season.
Espanyol, on the other hand, will be looking for a win or draw against their fierce rivals. If Espanyol fails to pick up a point at the Camp Nou, they will be relegated to the Segunda Division. This should provide extra motivation for the Barcelona veterans like Gerard Pique, who would love to see their Catalan rivals struggling in the second division.
Let’s do this!
Barcelona: 2nd place; 73 points
Espanyol: 20th place; 24 points
This is the squad chosen by Setien to play the Derbi Barcelona
Ousmane Dembele is out with a hamstring injury for the rest of the season. Junior Firpo is also sidelined for this game as he picked up a hip problem against Villareal. Frenkie De Jong, who was out due to a calf injury has mostly recovered and begun training with the rest of the team and could be in play against Real Valladolid. Meanwhile, Umtiti is out due to problems with his knee.
The youth players chosen are Iñaki Peña, Riqui Puig, Alex Collado, Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Dani Morer, Monchu Rodriguez and Jorge Cuenca.
Ter Stegen should start in goal as every game is important for the title hopes. Umtiti and Firpo are out due to injury, so the rest of the defence sets itself. Semedo and Alba should play as the full-backs while Pique and Lenglet play in central defence. Araujo could also get the nod to play so that the starters can be rested.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets should start as the defensive midfielder. The rest of the midfield has a lot of options ready. Sergi Roberto should start this game after an impressive game against Villarreal. Rakitic has been good after the break and might start as well. The youthful Riqui Puig should definitely come on as a substitute after shining in every game he has played after the break.
The attack seems to be in good form as well, with Suarez, Fati and Griezmann getting on the scoresheet last game. Griezmann, Suarez and Messi should start this game, with Braithwaite or Fati coming on as impact subs.
The lineup might look like below:
Barcelona 4 Espanyol 0
This might be an audacious prediction, but I want Barcelona to completely destroy Espanyol and kick them down to where they belong. The team should be motivated for this one and settle themselves as the best team in Catalonia.