Barcelona vs. Espanyol: Preview, Live Stream, Start Time and More
The Manchester derby in England this week meant something; its result will likely have a profound effect on the end result of the title race.
In Barcelona, that same storyline won't be repeated.
Espanyol is in the lower-middle of the La Liga table, nowhere near the relegation zone. FC Barcelona is in second and will stay there unless something drastic happens.
But even though the result is moot, the fact that it is a derby will mean something to both of these teams. Nobody likes to lose to a crosstown rival, no matter the current state of league affairs.
Where: Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
When: Saturday, May 5 at 3 p.m. EDT
Live Stream: ESPN3
FC Barcelona holds a distinct edge over its in-town rival Espanyol, with an overall record of 85-34-34 in league matches between the two teams. The historical context of this derby is summed up nicely in a post over at Barça Blaugranes:
Like many Spanish rivalries, this one was also fueled by political differences. ...Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
During Franco's years, Espanyol were viewed by Catalan people as the club that supported the dictator and the central authority, a regime that was openly opposed by FC Barcelona and its supporters. During the Spanish Civil War, an Espanyol supporter group joined the fascists to show their approval of Franco.
In recent years the matchup between the two sides lost most of its political influence, as Espanyol translated its name and anthem from Spanish to Catalan. This derby is far more important to Espanyol fans, as they regard Barcelona as their biggest rivals, while Barca's main rival is Real Madrid.
Title Chase All But Over
If Real Madrid wins today over Athletic Bilbao, the La Liga title is headed to the Bernabeu. This might affect how Barcelona plays the derby match, choosing to give some non-regulars a run.
Barça has locked up second place, 29 points ahead of Valencia as of press time. There is no danger in rewarding some fringe and bench players for their loyalty in this game.
New manager Tito Vilanova isn't exactly new at Barcelona, so he shouldn't feel the need to name a full-strength starting 11 just to show who his "guys" are.
Espanyol wants to keep Philippe Coutinho
After signing the Brazilian on loan in January, Espanyol wants to keep midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who is under contract at Inter Milan. Since joining Espanyol, Coutinho has started all but two La Liga matches.
He has two goals in 14 appearances, but he was also sent off for two yellow-card infringements on April 10 in a 2-0 loss at Osasuna.
Espanyol has seen enough from him to know that he is a player the club wants to have for its very own. Coutinho himself said he is happy in the white-and-blue section of Barcelona (from ESPN):
I would like to stay, but I am not thinking about the future. A player always wants to be playing, and I am enjoying the time I have played.
Home is Where the Wins Are
Espanyol has beaten FC Barcelona at Camp Nou once since the 1981-82 season, in which Barça won 4-0 at Espanyol but lost 3-1 at home. Barcelona ended up losing the title race by two points that season.
Since that year, there have been four ties at Camp Nou (and two seasons in which the teams didn't meet because Espanyol was in the second division), but Barcelona has won 23 games.
The lone Espanyol win at Barça since the early '80s came three seasons ago—a 2-1 result.
Prediction: Barcelona wins, 2-1
Even if Barcelona decided to play its B squad, Espanyol just doesn't have the quality to cope with it right now. This will be a close game, as derbies usually are, but Barça's quality will show through in the end.
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