Coach Xavi Hernandez’s men have the opportunity to win the twenty-seventh title in the history of their club and the first since 2019 in the event of victory at the “RCDE Stadium”, a possibility that Espanyol fans cannot imagine.
Barcelona can also secure the title before visiting Espanyol, in the event that its direct pursuers, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid III, fail to beat Elche on Sunday and Getafe on Saturday, respectively.
By contrast, Espanyol are fighting to maintain their presence at the other end of the table, currently sitting in 19th place, three points from safety with five stages to go.
Espanyol was relegated to the second division for the first time in nearly three decades in 2020, but it immediately returned to the elite league in the following year 2021.
Espanyol became the first team in the league to score a goal at the “Spotify Camp Nou” stadium this season when it forced Barcelona to a 1-1 draw on December 31 last in the fifteenth stage, and only Real Madrid succeeded in that since then, specifically on March 19. Last March, when he lost 1-2 in the twenty-sixth stage.
In the first leg, veteran international striker Joselo (33 years) equalized for Espanyol from a penalty kick in the 73rd minute, after Barcelona took an early lead through defender Marcos Alonso (7).
Joselu warned his teammates that despite the great difference between the two teams’ positions, derby matches are different.
He told the “The Zone” broadcasting network: “In the first match, they were also strong. (They thought) that they would score five goals against us at the Camp Nou, but we got a very positive result.”
The former Alaves and Newcastle striker added: “They have a great advantage over us at the moment, but in the end, the derby is my derby and you can see all that in all derby matches.”
He continued, “There can be a better team and a worse team, but the two sides and their strengths are equal.”
Espanyol hopes to take advantage of the ground and public factors to compensate for its harsh loss to its host Seville 2-3 in the last stage, after it was ahead 2-1.
And defender Leandro Cabrera insisted on the need to “continue to fight because there are matches and points left and we will not give up.”
But of the clubs fighting to avoid relegation, Espanyol arguably have the worst games left. In addition to Barcelona’s visit to him on Sunday, he will host Atletico Madrid and Almeria at home, in addition to visiting Rayo Vallecano and Valencia.
The last time Espanyol beat Barcelona in the league dates back to February 2009 at Camp Nou, when coach Luis Garcia was a player in his ranks.
Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets is likely to feature in one of his last games for the club after announcing Wednesday that he will leave at the end of the season at the end of his contract.
The 34-year-old, who has made more than 700 appearances for the Blaugrana, has five official matches left with the Catalan giants.
Atletico to cling to second place
The opportunity appears to be favorable for Atletico Madrid to achieve its fourth successive victory and cling to the second place that it snatched from its neighbor and arch-rival Real Madrid in the last stage, when it is a guest on Elche, who is in last place and the first to be relegated to the second division.
Atletico Madrid achieved nine victories in its last ten matches, in which it suffered one loss, which was against Barcelona 0-1, and tied once, and it was in the derby against Real Madrid 1-1.
Atletico Madrid is well aware of the importance of the three points against Elche because it is the easiest match among the five remaining for him, as he will play with Osasuna, Espanyol, Real Sociedad and Villarreal.
Atletico Madrid may find itself third before its visit to Elche, because the royal club hosts its neighbor, Getafe, on Saturday.
The Italian coach of Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti, will resort to resting some of his basic elements, especially his Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior and his French captain and scorer Karim Benzema, in anticipation of the decisive summit against his host Manchester City, England, next Wednesday, in the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals.
Real Madrid wasted 12 points out of 24 in its last eight matches and suffered two disappointing defeats against its hosts Girona 2-4 and Real Sociedad 0-2, and therefore will try to restore balance locally and raise the morale of its players before their trip to Manchester.
For his part, Real Sociedad hopes to continue its awakening and achieve its third successive victory in order to consolidate the last fourth place that qualifies for the Champions League competition next season, when it hosts Girona on Saturday.
Saturday also plays Osasuna with Almeria, Villarreal with Athletic Bilbao, Sunday Celta Vigo with Valencia, and Valladolid with Seville.
The stage opens on Friday with Real Mallorca’s match with Cadiz, and ends on Monday with the Real Betis match against Rayo Vallecano.