Slip-ups for second-placed Atletico Madrid and third-placed Real Madrid would allow Xavi’s side to win the title before kicking another ball, but they will also be confirmed as the champions with a victory over an Espanyol outfit that are 19th in the division, three points from the safety of 17th position.
Espanyol’s form is worrying at a vital stage of the season, with Luis Garcia’s side only winning one of their last 10 matches in Spain’s top flight, which has seen them drop into 19th position in the table.
It is not quite time to hit the panic button, as they are only three points behind 17th-placed Valencia, but another disappointing result here would leave them in a very vulnerable position.
The White and Blues finished 14th in La Liga last season following their shock relegation to the Segunda Division in 2019-20, but they are now facing the prospect of dropping back down to the second tier.
Espanyol recorded a 1-0 win over Getafe in their last home match at the end of April but could not build on the positive result, losing 3-2 at Sevilla last time out, with Pape Gueye winning it for the hosts in the 88th minute.
Garcia’s team actually have the second-worst home record in La Liga this season, claiming only 17 points from 16 matches, while they have not managed to beat Barcelona in the league since February 2009, which is an indication of the size of their task in this contest.
If third-placed Real Madrid fail to beat Getafe on Saturday night, the reigning champions will be out of the title race, and Barcelona would then be confirmed champions on Sunday afternoon should second-placed Atletico Madrid drop points against bottom-of-the-table Elche.
If either or indeed both Real Madrid and Atletico manage to win, Barcelona would need to overcome Espanyol on Sunday evening to be crowned champions for the 2022-23 campaign.
Even if Barcelona slip up on Sunday and the race goes to the next matchday, it is incredibly difficult to imagine Xavi’s side passing up such a strong position, with an excellent campaign seeing them collect 82 points from their 33 matches courtesy of a record of 26 wins, four draws and three losses.
Being absent from Europe has helped the Catalan outfit in the second half of the season, and they will enter this match off the back of successive wins over Real Betis and Osasuna on home soil.
Barcelona have actually lost three times on their travels in the league this season but still boast the best away record, claiming 37 points from 16 matches, winning 12 of those fixtures.
This weekend’s match will also prove to be the final Barcelona derby for legendary midfielder Sergio Busquets, who has confirmed that he will be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of June.
Espanyol La Liga form:
Barcelona La Liga form:
We say: Espanyol 1-2 Barcelona
Espanyol are in desperate need of the points, which should make it a very competitive match this weekend. Barcelona’s record against their rivals cannot be ignored, though, and Xavi’s side have also had a long period to prepare for this match, so they should be able to claim all three points, which may or may not be required to win the title.