Barcelona must cope without Robert Lewandoski in the Catalan Derby. The Poland striker who took Laliga by storm is serving a three-match suspension after receiving a red card in Barca’s penultimate game before the World Cup.
The Catalans overcame Osasuma and moved two points ahead of defending champions Real Madrid, who are currently second after 14 games.
Barcelona coach Xavi has alot of talent at his disposal, Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati and Memphis Depay will be competing for a starting spot.
France winger Ousmane Dembele, who finished second in the World Cup, returned to training with Barcelona on Monday and might play against Espanyol.
Topping the Laliga table was a morale booster for Barcelona before the World Cup following their humiliating group stage exit from the Champions League.
The Spanish giants finished last campaign trophyless and Xavi is under pressure to win a silverware in his second campaing in charge.
Barcelona made contentious financial concessionss to sign Lewandosky, Brazil winger Raphina, France defender Jules Kounde and other players during the summer transfer window.
The addition of Lewandoski appeared to be paying off right away, but pressure has increased after they were defeated twice in Europe by his previous team, Bayern Munich.
“I am aware that we need to win titles this season,” Xavi told reporters last week.
“The pressure is mainly on me. And I accept it. I thrive on challenge and one needs to be brave.”
Barcelona and still in the Spanish Super Cup and that will present them an opportunity to win a trophy this campaign.
But they must play rivals Atletico Madrid in the Copa Del Rey and Espanyol in Laliga.
The Catalan Derby.
Espanyol is battling for its life at the opposite end of the standings, in 16th place and just a point above the relegation zone.
Manager Pablo Machin is set to start former Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite in the attack after what seamed to be a breakup last summer.
The Danish forward claimed that he believed Xavi did not have faith in him, and he has the opportunity to do so on Saturday.
Further attention will be directed at Xavi’s decision to go with Torres, Fati and Depay as backups for Lewandoski rather than Braithwaite for the derby lineup.
Girona vs Rayo Vallecano
Real Betis vs Athletic Bilbao
Atletico Madrid vs Elche
Getafe vs Real Mallorca
Celta Vigo vs Sevilla
Cadiz vs Almeria
Real Valladolid vs Real Madrid
Barcelona vs Espanyol
Real Sociedad vs Osasuna
Villareal vs Valencia