Barcelona’s struggles this season have not been witnessed in La Liga as much as they have been in Europe; they are set to resume their league campaign after the World Cup, with a home game against Catalan opponents, Espanyol. Barcelona are top of the league standings with 37 points and will hope to extend their lead with three points against 16th placed Espanyol who have 12 points. As they go into their first game since the World Cup break, Barcelona have four straight wins and in three of them they’ve kept clean sheets. This matches well with their defensive record in the league this season. They have conceded just five goals in their 14 matches in La Liga and have the best defence so far in the league. In their last three matches, they’ve scored two or more goals in each. Three of the five goals came in the El Clasico defeat, 3-1 to Real Madrid and they have eight clean sheets in 10 league matches. They’ve won nine of their last 10 league games and in four of their last five matches in La Liga, they’ve scored two or more goals. Barcelona haven’t conceded a goal at home in La Liga this season.
Espanyol returned to competitive action after the 2022 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Atletico Paso in the Copa del Rey. That was their second straight win, both in the cup competition and they haven’t won any of the earlier four matches. In their last five league matches, Espanyol haven’t registered a win; they’ve lost two and drawn three, while they’ve also failed to score in two of the five. All season, so far in this La Liga campaign, Espanyol have managed three wins only in the 14 games. In their three wins in La Liga, Espanyol have only managed one away win and they are winless in the last five ahead of this one. Espanyol almost snatched a win over Barcelona in their last meeting, only conceding in stoppage time to draw 2-2 in a game that saw three red cards flashed out, two for Espanyol. In four of the last six meetings between these two sides, Barcelona have won with clean sheets in four.
Barcelona have dominated this fixture and it no longer feels like a derby. The two sides’ last meeting had tempers flying as Espanyol went very close to a first win over Barcelona since 2016 in the Supercopa de Catalunya. The visitors are no longer at those levels and their defensive run hasn’t been great either. They are facing the best defensive side in La Liga and for the Barcelona v Espanyol game, we will back Barcelona to win without conceding.