Barcelona 1.12, the draw 9.00, Espanyol 22.00
Emotions will be running even higher than usual in this Catalan Derby. Not just because of the tension that exists between the clubs, but because this will be Pep Guardiola’s final game at Camp Nou.
Guardiola confirmed recently that he would indeed be leaving the club to take a sabbatical, and rest his weary mind from the pressures that come with coaching on the world’s top teams. Considering all he has done for the club, it will surely be a very special send-off for the man who restored Barça to greatness.
Despite the league being over, Guardiola wants to go out on a high note and win this one that means a great deal to the fans. A Barça win can be found at 1.12, but to improve that value maybe head for a predicted score.
Barça have scored at least 2 goals in 15 of their last 16 games and will be confident of doing it again here, while at HT and FT they have been winning on 12 of the last 13 occasions – to do it again they’re 1.40. The fact they have 11 goals in their last 2 games shows that Guardiola isn’t easing off and their cross-city opponents will be aware of that.
Espanyol, meanwhile, have recently seen their European aspirations smashed, and a strong finish to the league is all they can be hopeful for now. It’s a shame, as at one stage the club looked set for Europa League qualification, but a collapse in form has seen them slip down the table.
Pochettino’s men have lost their last three away games, and they’ve conceded at least two goals in 5 of their last 6 games, an appalling record from a team who are having great difficulty at both ends of the field.
Guardiola has a huge final against Athletic on the horizon, and will be looking to protect his players with that in mind. José Manuel Pinto will play in goal for the rest of the season, while Xavi is fit for the game despite being a doubt and Alexis Sánchez is set to return. Thiago and Sergio Busquets were rested midweek, and they too could feature. Gerard Piqué remains sidelined however with a head injury.
For Espanyol, Sergio García, a key figure in attack, looks set to miss out again too and will be sorely missed. Kala Uche does return to the attack though in what is a minor boost, and to score anytime he’s found at 5.00. Also, Mexican defender Hector Moreno is back and will be there to shore up the defence
Last time out Barça were amongst the goals in a 4-1 demolition of Málaga, and another inspired Lionel Messi performance was key to that. He reached 68 goals in a season, and will be looking to add to that figure further here. Messi to score first is 2.75, and if you fancy him to score outside the box he’s at 3.50.
PREDICTION: Barcelona to win with ease.
BEST BET: Barcelona to score from a penalty is 4.00.