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PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB

Here in Catalonia it's the first Sunday of the winter sales and the stores are full of price discounted offers.  But the offers don't stretch as far as Espanyol's stadium in Cornellà.  Speaking at his Saturday press conference, Pep Guardiola insisted there'll be no easy pickings in tonight's match and the stats back him up.  Five teams have already dropped points there this season – defeats for Athletic Club, Getafe, Betis and Atletico Madrid and a goalless draw for Villarreal.  Only Real Madrid and Osasuna have taken the three points away from Cornellà.

FC Barcelona restart their league campaign a month after their stunning exhibition in the Bernabeu.  And what better way to start than with a Barcelona derby.  During the month-long league break, Barça have won four (two in the World Club Cup and two in the Kings Cup), scoring 21 goals along the way and conceding none.  In contrast, Espanyol go into the match three days after a painful defeat away to 2nd division, Cordoba in the first leg of the last 32 of the Cup.  However, manager Pochettino is optimistic: "We're got all our energies focused on this match.  We'll do everything possible to win".

Iniesta back in contention

A fully fit Andrés Iniesta could make a welcome return to Guardiola's starting line-up.  The Spanish international midfielder has been sidelined for a fortnight after damaging a leg muscle in the home Cup game against Hospitalet.  The return of Iniesta means that Guardiola can draw on 19 players from the senior squad plus Isaac Cuenca for a match that is sure to pose a stiff test.

1-5 last year

Despite the keen rivalry, recent results in the Barcelona derbies have definitely been in Barça's favour, both in the Montjuïc and now the Cornellà venues.  Barça have won on six of their last ten visits and drawn two.  Guardiola's players could only manage a goalless draw on their inaugural visit to the new Cornellà stadium but last year thrashed the home side 1-5, with two apiece for Pedro and Villa and one more from Xavi.  Strangely enough, Espanyol's new stadium is one of the few where Messi has yet to score, and as Guardiola would say, "That one never fails".


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