Barcelona travel to RCDE Stadium for a derby date with Espanyol Saturday on a high, having thrashed Osasuna 7-1 on Wednesday evening to improve their chances of claiming an outright lead at La Liga's summit.
The Blaugrana retain the lead based on their head-to-head record against Real Madrid, who are level on points in second, although Los Blancos still have the advantage of a game in hand over their rivals.
Much is at stake for Barca in this particular derby encounter, as they need to keep pace with Real and extend their chances of giving manager Luis Enrique a winning send-off in his last season at the Camp Nou helm.
Espanyol have their backs against the wall, however, and enter Saturday's showdown after failing to win in their last two outings, not to mention they haven't beaten Barca in the league since 2009.
Read on as we preview one of La Liga's must-watch fixtures in Week 35, complete with all the latest team news and viewing information to ensure you don't miss out on any of the action.
Date: Saturday, April 29
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: RCDE Stadium, Barcelona
TV Info: Sky Go app (UK), beIN Sports 3 (U.S.)
|Espanyol vs. Barcelona Form Guide|
|Sporting Gijon 1-1 Espanyol||Barcelona 7-1 Osasuna|
|Espanyol 0-1 Atletico Madrid||Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona|
|Leganes 0-1 Espanyol||Barcelona 0-0 Juventus|
|Espanyol 1-0 Alaves||Barcelona 3-2 Real Sociedad|
|Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Espanyol||Juventus 3-0 Barcelona|
|Espanyol 2-1 Real Betis||Malaga 2-0 Barcelona|
Luis Enrique will undoubtedly be overjoyed at the thought of having star attacker Neymar back among his ranks this weekend after the Brazilian served a three-match suspension following his red card at Malaga.
The Blaugrana have shown they can cope in his absence, winning all three of their league games since his sending-off, although the club still think of their South American star as an invaluable asset:
B/R Football @brfootball
Every player has their price. Except Neymar, that is. https://t.co/N5AUDfqocq2017-4-25 10:06:37
Barcelona are fortunate to have no new injury concerns ahead of their trip, although Aleix Vidal and Rafinha remain sidelined by long-term injuries.
What's more, Javier Miguel of Catalan newspaper Sport recently suggested that a "suspicious Achilles tendon problem" has ended Jeremy Mathieu's Barcelona career, having last appeared in the first leg of Barca's UEFA Champions League defeat to Juventus on April 11.
Espanyol have a similarly clean bill of health, with defender Oscar Duarte and midfielder Salva Sevilla among their long-term absences after both suffering knee injuries earlier this term.
Attackers Alvaro Vazquez and Hernan Perez could also be missing for the derby duel due to muscular problems and an ankle injury, respectively, per Transfermarkt, having each missed around a fortnight of action thus far.
La Liga's hunt for the crown is nearing fever pitch as Barca and Real rally to find their best form in time for a grand crescendo to end the campaign, and a derby such as this risks unsettling the incumbent leaders.
Many with the Blaugrana squad are experienced enough to know nothing is won yet, and while Enrique's side have won their last three in succession, the standings remain divided by the slimmest of margins:
Barcelona & Real Madrid win to remain neck-and-neck at the top, while Osasuna are relegated from #LaLigaSantander. https://t.co/BVWGX35E1k2017-4-26 21:56:49
Espanyol have nothing to lose and everything to gain from the fixture, too, a factor that makes manager Quique Sanchez Flores' men all the more dangerous at the RCDE Stadium.
Ninth in La Liga and with few prospects of moving outside mid-table, Espanyol can afford to go for broke, and prior to last Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Atletico Madrid, their recent home record was a fierce one:
✅ Espanyol have won their last 4 at home ⛔️ Atletico are undefeated in 8 on the road... Follow #EspanyolAtleti 👉 https://t.co/AJj1WObYyR https://t.co/zKu7znF4gW2017-4-22 18:45:07
Despite that defeat, they have suffered only two home defeats in league competition this season, and only two of those have come in 2017, giving Barca a sense of the competition they'll face on Saturday.
Espanyol's 1-0 defeat to Atletico in Week 33 was also the first time this year the club has failed to score in a home outing, and Barca can bet this weekend's hosts won't be looking to make that a habit any time soon.