The Catalan classic between Espanyol and Barcelona will indicate one of the semi-finalists of the 2017/2018 edition of the King’s Cup of Spain. The fight for the classification begins on Wednesday, January 17, at the RCDE stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 18h (Brasília time).
The competition establishes definitions in round-trip matches. The second game is scheduled for January 25th. If there is a tie in number of points won, the definition can be made in the goal balance or even through the use of the qualified goal – marked away from home – as a tiebreaker criterion.
The recent performance of Espanyol
Espanyol had to draw rabbits in a hat to reach the quarter-finals stage of the King’s Cup. In the previous stage, at home, lost to Levante, home by 2 to 1. Out of their dominions, ensured survival making it 2 – Before, he had already had difficulty with Tenerife, the Second Division. 0 – 0 was the score after the first half.
In the Spanish Championship, his campaign has also been below what could be expected from a team that got to stay in the previous season near the zone of classification for European tournaments. On Sunday, January 14, once again playing in his stadium, the poor cousin of Catalonia did not pass 1 to 1 with Atlhetic Bilbao.
With that, he reached 24 points (six wins, six draws and seven losses). It is in the fourteenth position. The two wins and two draws in the last four games have managed to keep the team from the block of teams that are in the most intense fight against relegation. Now Espanyol have an advantage of eight points in comparison with La Coruña, eighteenth placed and first in the region of the sticking.
To face his biggest local rival and owner of an investment many times higher than his team can do, at least coach Quique Flores can count on practically all his cast at his disposal. Of those athletes who are considered starters or are frequently used, have no problem of injury or suspension.
The current form of Barcelona
Barca even had a scare on Sunday, January 14. As a visitor, he was at a disadvantage in the match against Real Sociedad. It took 2 to 0 in the first half, but got the turn, by 4 to 2, staying in the lead undefeated and with great advantage of the Spanish Championship. If he is not beaten by Espanyol, he will be able to complete five months without losing a game.
This includes the King’s Cup, where Barca defend the title conquered the previous season. In the current edition of the tournament, passed without any problem for Murcia with victories of 3 to 0 (away) and 5 to 0 (at home). In the round of 16, he had a little more work in the first leg against Celta. The score was 1 – 1. However, in the return match, he thrashed 5-0.
In the Spanish Championship, the title was very well directed to reach 51 of 57 possible in the first round. There were 16 wins and three draws. With 52 goals scored (best attack) and nine conceded (second defense less leaked) opened a nine-point advantage in comparison to Atletico Madrid. The Real, current holder of the title, has 19 points less.
Only the medical department has not brought good news to coach Ernesto Valverde. Striker Osmane Dembelé (four games in the 2017/2018 Spanish Championship, no goal), hired at the start of the season for Neymar’s spot, was injured once again. He had suffered a muscle injury that took him more than three months off the lawn. Against Real Sociedad, he was injured again and this time the return period was established in one month.
Newly hired for a value of 140 million euros, Brazilian Philippe Coutinho is still recovering from injury and has no playing conditions. Also in the ward are the defender Samuel Umtiti (12 games, no goal); midfielder Gerard Deulofeu (nine games, one goal); and striker Paco Alcacer (eight games, two goals).
History of the bouts between Espanyol and Barcelona
Barcelona have won the last six official matches between the teams. This series had a Espanyol success in the middle, but by the friendly tournament Juan Gamper, in 2016.
Barca’s unbeaten league, considering only games with three points, is 21 games. Espanyol’s most recent success came in 2009 when they scored 2-1 at Camp Nou by LaLiga.
The field factor and even the rivalry have little influence in the classic given the great technical advantage of Barcelona, which makes the team favorite in any circumstance. The prize for victory is 1.30 in Rivalo. Draw has a return of 5.30 and Espanyol’s victory yields 9.30 per invested real.
Our Prediction: Barcelona win @ 1.30