Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid kept the pressure on Barcelona midweek, winning their matches after Barcelona played on Tuesday. They kick off the weekend's La Liga action on Friday at home against their local rivals, as Javier Aguirre's Espanyol invade the Camp Nou.
Aguirre has done well to get a thin Espanyol side with financial troubles up into the top half, but they've failed to win in their last two games. That winless streak will probably extend to three on Friday, but they're the type of team that occasionally gives Barcelona problems. They're one of Spain's best counter-attacking teams and don't need much of the ball to create goal-scoring opportunities.
Barcelona's defense can be shaky when everyone's healthy, but there could be extra opportunities for Espanyol to take advantage of in this game. Martin Montoya, Barcelona's backup right back, will likely start out of position at left back with Jordi Alba and Adriano injured. Adriano is not out of the match for sure, but is not expected to play.
Gerardo Martino has been rotating his front three, so expect one of Alexis Sanchez or Pedro Rodriguez to take a seat in favor of Neymar. Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez both rested midweek as well and will probably start in midfield ahead of Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas.
Barcelona injuries and suspensions
Out: Jonathan dos Santos (knee), Jordi Alba (hamstring), Ibrahim Afellay (thigh). In doubt: Adriano (thigh)
Espanyol injuries and suspensions
Out: None reported.
Adriano was hurt mid-week, but is not seriously injured. Alba should be ready to return sometime in December, and at the very worst should be fit when the Blaugrana return from La Liga's winter break. Espanyol have no reported injuries.
Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Montoya, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, Neymar
Espanyol: Casilla, Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Fuentes, D. Lopez, Sánchez, Garcia, Thievy, Pizzi, Stuani
Match Date/Time: Friday, 4 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. local
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
TV: beIN Sport (U.S. - English) beIN Sport en Español (U.S. - Spanish), Sky Sports 2 (U.K.), Canal+ (Spain)
Online: beIN Sport Play (U.S. and Canada), Sky Go (U.K.)