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|Both Teams to Score and Total Goals||Odds|
|Yes and Over 2.5||+118
|Yes and Under 2.5||+800
|No and Over 2.5||+410
|No and Under 2.5||+188
Barcelona have struggled to keep clean sheets of late and Espanyol will fancy their chances of finding the back of the net in a game that could go either way.
Back both teams to score and over 2.5 goals (+118)
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It has long felt as if Xavi Hernandez was destined to one day manage Barcelona. That day is now upon us. The former midfielder, who won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues during his time at the Camp Nou as a player, has been linked with the position in the past. But for one reason or another, Xavi resisted previous approaches to return to his spiritual home. He opted instead to continue leading Al Sadd, the Qatari outfit with whom he won a league title and two cups in two and a half years at the helm.
When president Joan Laporta came calling in October, though, Xavi concluded the time was right. His return was confirmed on November 6, the day of Barcelona’s 3-3 draw with Celta Vigo. Unsurprisingly, the appointment has gone extremely down well among the fan base. The cold hard facts may show that the club has entrusted the role to a 41-year-old with no managerial experience in Europe. But if anyone can restore the Barcelona way, it is Xavi – a Catalan who joined the club aged 12 and was the heartbeat of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering team from 2008 to 2012.
After Johan Cruyff and Guardiola, Xavi feels like the next part of the lineage. Even as a player he was a fierce defender of Barcelona’s traditions, sometimes to the point of sanctimony. That ideological purity does not necessarily mean he will be a successful manager, but his ideas and his status mean he will be afforded time to put things right.
However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Barcelona is a diminished force. They are ninth in La Liga after 12 games and closer to the relegation zone than top spot in terms of points. Lionel Messi is no longer present to paper over the cracks. Xavi has a big job on his hands.
Espanyol have seldom relished the short trip to Camp Nou. They have lost each of their last 13 visits there by an aggregate scoreline of 40-3. Their most recent win at the home of their city rivals was back in 2009, when Xavi was still in his 20s and had never played in a Champions League final. Even in recent years, when Barcelona have plainly not been among the world’s best teams, Espanyol has struggled to score at the Camp Nou, let alone win.
Hope springs eternal, though, and soccer always gives you another chance. After their relegation in 2019/20, Espanyol bounced straight back to La Liga last term. They have made a promising start to the current campaign too, and go into the derby level on points with Barcelona. Vicente Moreno’s side is in good form, having lost only one of their last six outings. A 2-1 triumph over Real Madrid in October certainly made the other teams in the division sit up and take notice – including their Catalan neighbors.
Avoiding relegation remains the overriding objective this term, but Espanyol’s recent results suggest they might soon be able to look beyond such a modest target. For the time being, a long overdue win at the Camp Nou would be enough to please the club’s long-suffering fans.
There are fundamental problems at Barcelona that will not be solved by a new head coach. The club has debts totaling $1.6 billion and will struggle to find the money to fund a major squad rebuild. The quality of the squad at Xavi’s disposal is nothing like that of the sides he played in under Frank Rijkaard, Guardiola and Luis Enrique. Barcelona’s problems are manifold and there is no quick fix.
Having said that, there are numerous ways that Xavi can instigate an improvement on the field. Barcelona must be more creative and sophisticated in possession. They need to tighten up defensively and cut out the individual errors that have proved costly on several occasions this season. Xavi should look towards the young trio of Gavi, Pedri and Ansu Fati, each of whose natural talent is more important than a lack of experience.
Xavi has not yet had enough time to get his ideas across, though, and Espanyol will arrive at the Camp Nou quietly confident of picking up a result. Given that they have scored in each of their last six La Liga matches and that Barcelona have not kept a clean sheet in that time, over 2.5 goals and both teams to score looks like the way to go in the Catalan derby this weekend.
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|Barcelona vs Espanyol Information|
|Teams||Barcelona vs Espanyol|
|Location||Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain|
|Time||Sunday, 21 October 2021, 15.00 PM EST|
|How to watch||ESPN|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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