05 May 2012

FC Barcelona v Espanyol: The farewell derby

21.00 – GolT, C+ Liga and Radio Barça – Against Espanyol this evening, Josep Guardiola is managing his very last game at the Camp Nou as FC Barcelona first team manager.

Alexis and Piqué miss the game, while Xavi could be back after a two-game absence.

Espanyol need to win all six remaining points if they want any chance of qualifying for Europe.

The time has come to thank Pep for everything he has done for the club over the last half decade. On Saturday, in an otherwise largely meaningless derby, the Barça fans will have the chance to give the most successful manager in club history, winner of no fewer than 13 major titles, the send-off he deserves. After five years at the club, including one with Barça B, Josep Guardiola is bidding farewell to the club in a game against local rivals RCD Espanyol.

Missing from Guardiola’s emotional farewell to the Camp Nou are Alexis Sánchez (who is still having trouble with his left thigh) and Gerard Piqué (who is still recovering from the nasty knock he took in the game with Chelsea). But while that duo will be watching from the stands, Xavi has recovered from his torn soleus, which has left him sidelined for the last two matches (Rayo and Málaga), and has been training normally since
Thursday. But Cuenca is doubtful due to a right ankle injury, meaning all of Bartra, Montoya and Tello of Barça B are once again named in the squad.

Since Wednesday, Barça know that they will definitely finish this League season in second place, and so it will be other targets that will be on their minds in their final two games against Espanyol and at Betis. One of those, perhaps the most important, is to help Leo Messi become the leading goalscorer in the tournament. The weekend starts with the Argentinian on 46 goals, two more than his rival Cristiano Ronaldo. But the game will also form part of the ongoing preparations for the Copa del Rey Final on May 25 against Athletic Bilbao.

If anything, it’s Espanyol who have the most to play for this evening. Mauricio Pochettino’s side is currently thirteenth in the league and five points short of the seventh and final place in Europe, which is currently occupied by Atlético Madrid. With just six points left to play for, if the ‘parakeets’ are to have any chance at all of featuring in next season’s Europa League, then they are going to have to win at the Camp Nou, and also take all three points from their final game at home to Sevilla. (via FCBarcelona.com)