La Liga: Barcelona can win the title this weekend – but must negotiate a derby first

FC Barcelona are on the brink of securing their 27th La Liga title this weekend. But before the celebrations can truly start, they must face local rivals RCD Espanyol in the Catalan derby. Here is how the Blaugrana can secure the title, and other scenarios, of Matchday 34.

This late-season derby between Espanyol and Barca is arguably the most important in years. The outcome of the game can have significant ramifications at both ends of the La Liga table.

Firstly, Barcelona. They have consistently conjured up result after result in 2022/23, and now boast a healthy lead in Spain. Built on a defence that has conceded just 11 goals, Xavi’s side leads La Liga by 13 points.

Therefore, if they can pull off a win at the home of their local rivals, Barcelona will win the La Liga title on Sunday. That isn’t the only way in which they can take home the crown, though.

If both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid fail to win their games in Matchday 34, then Barca will also be champions. Atleti travel to bottom-side Elche, meanwhile, Real take on Getafe.

But what about Espanyol?

Espanyol look for spark in relegation battle

In contrast to their Catalan counterparts, Espanyol are stuck in the relegation mire. Los Blanquiazules are currently second bottom of La Liga and three points from safety.

Although Barcelona is arguably their hardest game left on paper, the unpredictability of a derby may work in their favour.

The two sides have drawn their last two domestic clashes. Most recently, in December, Espanyol held on for a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou.

However, their record against Barca at the RCDE Stadium has left a lot to be desired. Espanyol have not yet beaten Barcelona in their current home in the league. Hopefully, Luis Garcia’s side can buck this trend on Sunday.

Barcelona stars chase accolades alongside La Liga title hopes

The Blaugrana also have some players chasing individual targets. Firstly, Robert Lewandowski will seek to increase his advantage in the race for the Pichichi. Per La Liga, the Polish forward leads the division with 19 goals. However, Karim Benzema (17 goals) is in hot pursuit.

At the other end of the pitch, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen chases history. He is on course to concede the fewest goals in a single La Liga campaign, having only seen 11 goals go past him in 2022/23. The German needs to concede less than seven goals in these final games to break the record.

As Barca prepare for this fixture, news has also emerged that a club legend is moving on. After 18 seasons in Barcelona, Sergio Busquets is leaving Camp Nou this summer.

“It has been an honour, a dream, a source of pride, and meant everything to represent this badge for so many years,” said the club captain via La Liga. “But everything has a beginning and end. Although it has not been an easy decision, I think the time has come.”

Busquets will thus play in his 32nd and final Catalan Derby this weekend.

The various narratives, both for the teams and the players, should make for an enthralling encounter. Can Barcelona confirm their 27th La Liga title this weekend? Or will Espanyol take a massive step toward survival?

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona is available to watch in the UK via Viaplay Sports (8pm kick-off) on Sunday 14 May.

Featured image credit: La Liga