Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insists Espanyol will provide an intense battle during Saturday’s derby encounter.
The La Liga leaders will make the short trip to their neighbours and will hope to end Espanyol’s superb home record.
Espanyol have only lost to Girona at home this season and they sit seventh, just four points behind fourth-placed Deportivo Alaves.
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Despite the gulf in points and class within the two squads, Valverde is expecting his team to be pushed all the way.
“The distance of points does not count,” Valverde told reporters. “This game plays a lot from the heart and little from the head. “Beyond what happened against Girona, they have been very strong at home. It is a trial by fire and we all have a hard time winning away from home.
“I also hope there is respect everywhere and a good atmosphere on the field. I expect a close game with the chance of us breaking quickly and generating many scoring chances and, if that happens, it should benefit us.”