FC Barcelona vs Espanyol : Match preview
Luis Enrique has motivated his players to keep improving as Barcelona prepare to play against local rival Espanyol in the club’s very first game of 2016.
The Catalan giant finished a stunning 2015 on a high note by beating Real Betis 4-0 on Wednesday to solidify its place at the top of La Liga table and cap an amazing year in which the club achieved five major trophies out of a possible six tally.
Their head coach is not getting carried away, of course, and intends to do even better in the year ahead.
“I don’t dwell on memories and 2015 is in the past,” Luis Enrique exclaimed at the Barcelona website. “Now I’m interested in 2016 and being the best again. That’s what professionals do.”
As usual, much of the focus for Saturday’s match will be on Lionel Messi, who just made his 500th appearance in all sorts of competitions for Barca against Real Betis, marking the occasion fittingly with his 425th goal.
The Argentina superstar made his debut for the club at Espanyol on October 16, 2004 at the very young age of 17 years and 114 days, the then youngest player to make his debut for the club. Rest is history.
He has since grown up to become the all-time top scorer of the Catalonian derby in La Liga with the tally of 13 strikes and has also scored six of the last 12 Barcelona goals against Espanyol in the league.
Espanyol, meanwhile, will be looking forward to bouncing back from its 2-0 defeat to Sevilla in midweek, but the club’s history of late versus Barca gives it little more reason for optimism.
The club have not beaten its fellow team in their last 12 La Liga encounters – drawing two of them and losing the remaining 10 – and Barca has not beaten any squad more often than Espanyol in La Liga history.