Barcelona Summary

Barcelona carried a two-point lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid into the World Cup break, a margin which may have been cut by kick-off with the 2nd placed club playing the day before this contest.

Due to their agonizing group exit in the Champions League, it cannot be said that the club is in great shape or that the season is a success despite sitting on top of the table. In the domestic game, however, Barcelona was looking strong and confident before the pause in the season.

The host comes into this game expecting a win versus Catalan neighbours Espanyol. This is a match-up that Barcelona has absolutely dominated in the last decade. They are enjoying a 24-game unbeaten record against Espanyol, stretching back to February 2009.

Xavi has one vital absence for this match with the suspended Robert Lewandowski missing out. All is set for Ferran Torres to lead the line which is a big reduction to their attack.

On Friday’s training session Kounde was back in full training and Ronald Araujo was given the all-clear for a recall to the squad on the weekend.


Espanyol Summary

Espanyol comes into the Catalan derby sitting just above the drop zone before any matches in the round have begun. There is only a point separating them from the bottom three and so a loss at the Camp Nou and results elsewhere may see them fall into the relegation places before the start of 2023.

Espanyol has looked sharp and organised in friendlies and cup outings during December. They won two Copa del Rey matches before this derby and boss Diego Martínez will hope that translates into more confidence on the pitch against Barcelona.

Martinez is optimistic about their chances of getting something from the game and has his best side available to try and achieve a positive result. He has a handful of injury absences but none of those are deemed as regular men right now, included the suspended youngster, Dani Gomez.

New signing, defender César Montes will have to wait until the New Year before he is cleared to debut.


Betting Analysis

Looking at the 1×2 market first, where the big favourite for this game is Barcelona. The host is priced @ 1.25 to secure the win to keep them on top of the table. For punters happy to oppose Barcelona, the draw can be backed @ 6.50 and the away victory pays @ 7.75

Moving onto the Asian handicap market for this contest. Barcelona would need to win by two goals for a half win given their -1.75 start. The host is slight favourites on this market too @ 1.87. Espanyol +1.75 have a good defensive record and so may give punters a good run for their money @ 1.99.

Looking at The Under/Over market last of all where the line is reasonably high at 3.25. The last two fixtures between these two at the same venue ended in narrow 1-0 home victories, therefore Under would have been the way to go. Over is @ 1.90 while punters expecting a tight derby can back the Under @ 1.92.