This season, the team that played at home has always won. Venue of game is RCDE Stadium, Espanyol's home.
Round 22 of La Liga brings us the third Catalan derby in just three weeks, the second at the RCDE Stadium, and fourth os season. The clash is expected to be heated after Gerard Piqué’s statement in the press conference after Barcelona knocked out Espanyol in the Copa del Rey. The defender called them “Espanyol from ‘Cornellà’”, instead of ‘Barcelona’. Espanyol vs Barcelona is also the clash between the best attack versus one of the worst attacks in Liga. Whereas the ‘Blaugrana’ are the side with the most goals scored (59), Espanyol have only 18 goals in 21 matches, less than one per match.
ESPANYOL, LAST TEAM TO BEAT BARCELONA
Espanyol have been the only side capable of beating Barcelona this season (if we don’t count the Spanish Supercopa in August). However, after they achieved the 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, the ‘Pericos’ then lost their next three fixtures. The hosts have won just one of their last four home games in La Liga, with Quique Sanchez Flores' side needing to kick on at home again given their abysmal away form.
Carlos Sanchez could be set for a debut in central midfield for the Espanyol after signing on deadline day. David Lopez should continue in central midfield, with Oscar Duarte and Mario Hermoso featuring at centre-back. Quique Sanchez Flores is likely to keep faith in Diego Lopez and leave Pau Lopez on the bench.
BARCELONA WON'T BE UNDERESTIMATING ESPANYOL
As for Barcelona, they remain unbeaten after an epic comeback last Sunday at the Camp Nou v Alavés (2-1). Leo Messi became the top free-kick taker in Liga with his 20th goal, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo (19). The Argentinian has scored two free-kick goals in the last three Liga clashes.
Barcelona last lost in Liga back in April, but the fact that they were defeated in Cornella recently will ensure that they won't be underestimating Espanyol heading into this grudge match. Thomas Vermaelen and Andre Gomes are still doubts for the weekend for Ernesto Valverde's side. Marc-Andre ter Stegen will come back fresh in goal, after resting midweek in the Copa del Rey. Paulinho should start in midfield, with Philippe Coutinho to start in the league to give Andres Iniesta's legs a rest.
THE THREE BEST BETTING OPTIONS
1. In first three Catalan derby of season, away team didn't score and Barcelona has kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 away matches
Both teams to score NO - 1.75
2. Espanyol has seen under 2.5 goals in 8 of their last 9 home matches against Barcelona in all competitions.
Under 2.5 goals 2.14
3. Philippe Coutinho spent six months on loan as an Espanyol player when he was just 20 years old. Now he is back at the RCDE stadium waiting to score his first goal in a Barca kit. Good odds for his first goal!
Philippe Coutinho first scorer - 5.50
*odd accurate as of 17.30 (03.02.2018) from Bet365