Preview: FC Barcelona vs Espanyol

It will be a sad day tomorrow as Barça take on Espanyol in what will be Pep Guardiola’s last game at Camp Nou after four glorious years in charge of the team. Guardiola took over a team that was past its best and after skillfully offloading a couple of star names he converted a group of very talented players into a team that would work brilliantly as a solid unit.

His record of 13 titles, which could be 14 if Barça lift the Copa del Rey in three weeks’ time, is second to none. In the last two years his spectacular personal duel with Jose Mourinho has made for some fascinating press conferences, but Mourinho, despite claiming the Liga this week, will have to accept he came off second with a record in the two seasons of just two trophies to the five (possibly six) trophies won by Pep in that time.

Guardiola’s record against Espanyol demonstrates the closeness of the city derbies in recent years. Espanyol won the first league derby at Camp Nou with Guardiola in charge through two Ivan De La Peña goals. Of course tomorrow the result matters for nothing but it would be fitting if Guardiola’s final Camp Nou game were a big win over our local rivals.

Besides giving Guardiola a good send off tomorrow’s match is also important for Leo Messi who can increase his spectacular all-time scoring record which now stands at 68 goals. The pichichi award is also still not decided though Messi’s hat-trick against Malaga has taken the Argentinian to 46 compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 44. Whatever happens both players have had incredible seasons though I’m sure I’m not the only one who cares a lot about who finishes top scorer. Some in Madrid are trying to use their triumph in the league to stir up the absurd claim that Ronaldo is the World’s Number One, and while scoring more goals, or winning more trophies for that matter, does not necessarily mean you are the better player, it all goes to help.

For tomorrow’s game Alexis Sanchez is definitely out while Isaac Cuenca is doubtful with a bruised ankle. Xavi trained with the team but may be rested as he is still nursing problems with his soleus muscle, while Gerard Piqué trained apart and is also doubtful. Cristian Tello, Martin Montoya and Marc Bartra trained with the 15 fit first team players and will make up the squad for the game. Team selection does not matter much now but we should hope for a strong team with the idea of giving Guardiola a good send off while assisting Messi to more goals. I also hope that Ibrahim Afellay gets more minutes which I’m sure he needs to get back to his best.

Possible Barça XI: Pinto; Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Adriano; Thiago, Keita, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Afellay.

My prediction: Barça 5 Espanyol 0

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7 Responses to Preview: FC Barcelona vs Espanyol

  1. thisisspain says:

    HUGE respect to Pep for everything he has done over 4 years. His trophy-list cannot be questioned. He will be a hard act to follow and I wish him well in his next challenge.

    As for tomorrow, he will be aware that it is “business as usual” and this madridista will obviously predict an Espanyol victory and the beginning of the end. Whilst it is too early to be talking about relegation next season, I already see a dog-fight with Barcelona, Depor, and Hércules desperately trying to win the 6-pointers.

    Congratulations, Pep. You did a magnificent job – perhaps we will see you at a big club soon. Man. Utd must be an option for you in 3 or 4 years and I´m sure Villa will be wondering about making an offer this summer. If you’d consider a pay cut, I’d suggest Gillingham. We wouldn’t be ashamed to add Puyol and Villa to the team-list.

  2. thisisspain says:

    Sorry – prediction for this derby: Barcelona 0 Espanyol 3 (You don’t seem to have done too well at derbies recently, do you?)

  3. bc9jaCulé says:

    Your comments never cease to amaze me. Well, I’ll just let you dream on about your abstract relegation permutations. Your personality must be a dumb mixture of conflicting sorts. After all, it’s not everyone that have eyes that sees with them.
    You are most welcome.

  4. Finishing with it’s Barcelona thing, they simply can’t stop scoring. Funny thing that Indians want to organize a goodbye friendly for Pep on the same night as the UCL Final, a bit weird I think

  5. barcacentralomer says:

    A thumping win over Espanyol would be a good send-off to the most successful Barca manager ever. With nothing left to play for in the final two games though why not give the youngsters a chance to challenge for the first team bench next season. Messi obviously still has the scorer’s title duel with CR7 but the others like Iniesta,Masch and Alves could be rested. Plus I’d like to see if any La Masia grads are good enough to break into the first team next season.

    @Nic: Whats the deal behind the rumours that Barca are looking to offload Alves in the summer. Not sure whats the thinking behind it but unless Barca have a Dani Alves clone ready seems like a pretty ridiculous proposition.

    • barcacentralnic says:

      Hi Omer, I’m hoping the Alves stories are just rumours created by the Madrid press to try and stir up trouble. It’s all based on Alves being left out of a couple of games and the silly dance against Rayo. I don’t think Alves wants to leave but who knows if he has received any massive offers. I think the club would be mad to consider selling him unless he came right out and said he wanted to leave which I don’t think will happen.

      • barcacentralomer says:

        @Nic: I must also acknowledge you getting it right on Alves a few seasons back when I thought he wasn’t an essential component of the Barca machine and that there were players similar/better than him. He has his flaws like all of us especially his talent for getting booked for the most ridiculous things but a terrific football player who’s also one of the reasons for Barca being so good going forward. Hope the exit rumours are just rumours although the Anzhi offer might just be too good to refuse.

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