The local derby at the weekend will also mark Xavi Hernandez’s first game in charge of the Blaugrana, who are currently ninth in La Liga table. The Catalan club headed into the international break after chaotically throwing away a three-goal lead to draw with Celta Vigo.
Xavi will look to lift the gloom and bring back the feel-good factor to Camp Nou with a win over local rivals Espanyol.
Barcelona Team News
Pedri and Ousmane Dembele look set to miss out against Espanyol after the duo didn’t take part in training on Thursday.
Ansu Fati, Eric García and Nico Gonzalez were all forced off with injuries against Celta Vigo but Garcia and Gonzalez could make the squad on Saturday. Sergino Dest remains a doubt with a back problem and Dani Alves is not eligible to play until January after joining on a free transfer last week.
Predicted Barcelona Lineup vs Espanyol (4-3-3)
Marc-Andre ter Stegen should continue in goal despite his shaky start to the season. He’ll be hoping to keep a clean sheet after conceding three goals in the second half against Celta Vigo before the international break.
Gerard Pique is the leader at the back and has often put in colossal displays against Espanyol. He has a great scoring record against Barcelona’s local rivals and will undoubtedly be a threat from set-pieces.
Partnering Pique in central defence could be Clement Lenglet, with Jordi Alba set to continue in his usual left-back role. With Dest doubtful, Xavi could give Sergi Roberto the nod ahead of Oscar Mingueza to start at right-back.
Sergio Busquets is expected to anchor the midfield in Xavi’s first game in charge of Barcelona. The experienced Spaniard will look to dictate the tempo of the game with his passing skills and reading of the game, whilst providing Frenkie de Jong and Nico Gonzalez the license to join in attacks.
If Barcelona can win the midfield battles against Espanyol, the chances of Xavi getting three points in his first game will be higher.
With six goals and two assists this season, Memphis Depay is a guaranteed starter for Barcelona. The Netherlands international will lead the attack flanked by Philippe Coutinho and Gavi.
Gavi has stormed into the scene this campaign and he’ll be keen to impress the new manager straight away with a big performance in the Catalan derby. Coutinho is yet to get back his mojo and would be handed opportunities by Xavi to prove his worth at Camp Nou.