Barcelona 1-0 Espanyol
Barcelona climbed to within a point of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a victory in the Catalan derby, which sends Espanyol down to the Segunda Division.
Tonight’s match was expected to be a one-sided romp to victory but it took until the 56th minute for Luis Suarez to break Espanyol’s resistance.
Barca came into the game on the back of a thumping 1-4 win away to Villarreal and here at SBOBET, we had this game as another big win. The Yellow Submarine have been in superb form and had another impressive victory away to Getafe, while Espanyol have been on a dreadful run.
But Los Periquitos didn’t lay down and had the better of the first half, but a red card for each side early in the second half sparked the game into life and Barcelona took control.
Highlights of the game
Espanyol couldn’t have reasonably expected much of the action tonight but they had their fair share in the first 15 minutes.
Barca keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was called into action in the 10th minute when Adrian Embarba took a pass from Marc Roca and fired a shot in. It was a good chance but his effort was too close to the goalkeeper.
Roca himself had a shot blocked after good work from Didac Vila but the Blaugrana gradually worked their way into the match.
Antoine Griezmann had one of his best games of the season against the Yellow Submarine and he was in lively mood again tonight. First, he won a free-kick to give Messi a chance, but the maestro’s dead ball kick flew over.
He then teed up the third member of the attacking trio, but Luis Suarez’ shot from the left side of the box was blocked. Barca probed, but their movement was all too often ponderous and the Espanyol defence stood firm for much of the first half.
And the bottom club came desperately close to taking the lead when Clement Lenglet almost turned a cross into his own net, but Ter Stegen managed to make the save. And then as the ball fell loose to Didac, he slid his shot past the Barca keeper but it hit the base of the right-hand post and rolled away to safety.
Espanyol had been the better side in the first half so Barca head coach Quique Setien responded by bringing 17-year-old Ansu Fati on to join Griezmann, Suarez and Messi in a four-man attack.
But the young sensation was only on the pitch for five minutes. He’s always keen to win the ball but his enthusiasm got the better of him and he flew into Fernando Calero, studs up. The ref handed him a yellow card, but upon seeing the replay on his VAR screen, he turned it into a red.
The youngest player on the pitch was gone, and just two minutes later, the second youngest was gone in exactly the same way.
Espanyol’s 20-year-old Pol Lozano left his foot on Gerard Pique and the ref awarded a yellow card, before heading to the pitchside screen and slipping the yellow back in his pocket to brandish the red. Extraordinary!
But the madness seemed to work to Barca’s advantage. The three remaining strikers combined brilliantly to put the favourites ahead. Griezmann squared for Messi to flick on and Suarez fired the ball into the net.
Then, in the moment of the match, Espanyol keeper Diego Lopez kept his team in the game with an incredible save from an equally stunning volley from Messi; take a look at the La Liga 2020 highlights, it has to be seen to be believed.
The La Liga 2020 betting odds had the hosts as short as 1.16 to win and while it was fairly comfortable in the end, the Blaugrana’s victory wasn’t convincing.
And so it’s farewell to Espanyol, for a while. Since their inception into the Spanish football league in 1900, Los Periquitos have spent 80 seasons in the top flight, but they have only managed to finish higher than Barca three times.
They have good players but they have folded, without a win in seven and on a run of six consecutive defeats.
Meanwhile, Barcelona haven’t lost at home in 43 games…and that’s the difference.
Well, this win keeps Barcelona in the title hunt but Real Madrid are playing Alaves on Friday night and could extend their lead at the top back to four points.
On Saturday the Blaugrana are away to Real Valladolid, a team which was in the relegation mix but has climbed up to mid-table.
Meanwhile, Espanyol head coach Francisco Rufete must now lift his players as they go back home to face Eibar, and that’s a game they could win against a side which has just about done enough to avoid the drop, though mathematically they are still not out of danger.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.