After almost 2 months, Barcelona will play the first official match since the start of the World Cup break. I honestly think that Barcelona will want to end the year with a sure victory in front of their fans, and they will certainly not lack motivation because they are playing against a big city rival. The city derby always brought a lot of passion and tension, but mostly Barcelona was the big favorite in the last twenty years. It will be the same in today's match, in which Barcelona will have to win if they want to return to first place. With the victory over Valladolid, Real Madrid took the first position in the table, but they have only one point more. Before the World Cup, Barcelona recorded really great results and in some moments it really seems that Xavi is slowly returning the old glory to Barcelona. For this match, they will have all important players at their disposal, considering that most of them finished their participation in the World Cup a long time ago and are fully ready for the continuation of the season. Barca is more than dominant on their field and this season they have an almost perfect performance in their stadium. They have 6 wins and one draw, with a great goal difference of 17 goals scored and no goals conceded. There are great chances that it will remain so after this match.
Espanyol is in 16th place in the table with 12 points. They haven't won for a long time, and unlike Barcelona, they had several matches during December, such as friendly matches against Mechelen and Torino, but also a cup duel against lower division Atletico Paso in which they barely won 1-0. Espanyol has not won at this stadium since 2009. Barcelona are simply dominant against this rival and should have no problems. Moreover, Espanyol failed to score in the last 7 matches at this stadium. They have quite a few problems with absent players. Albanian Bare will miss this duel due to an ankle injury, Gomez is suspended while Gori, Pedrosa and Sanchez are also out due to injuries. Espanyol are by no means a strong offensive side. They are just one point above the relegation zone at the moment with just 2 wins in 14 games played. The team led by Diego Martinez did not offer much in the final third in the recent games either. They scored only two goals in the previous three matches, despite facing the likes of Torino, Mechelen, and Atletico Paso. I believe that this match will be full of tension, above all from the guests, and I would not be surprised if we see a red card in the match.