FC Barcelona have grown stronger with every passing year. The year 2016 will be no different for the Catalan giants.
The defending La Liga champions take on RCD Espanyol in the first Spanish league game of the new calendar year — also a fierce Catalan derby — on Saturday, 2 January, 2016, at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat.
On paper, the home side have no chance today, especially after Barca ended 2015 with a 4-0 thrashing of Real Betis in their last La Liga game. However, the home advantage for Espanyol today cannot be counted out.
Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez — the lethal trio known as "MSN" — have made the Barcelona attacking line as dangerous as anything. They have contributed immensely as Barca entered 2016 as La Liga table-toppers with 38 points from 16 games. The trio is expected to feature in today's game as well.
Barca won five trophies in the calendar year 2015 — the La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, the Copa del Rey, the Joan Gamper Trophy, and the FIFA Club World Cup — and coach Luis Enrique is looking to emulating the record this year as well.
"We need to try to maintain the same level as last year," Enrique said ahead of the game. "The objective is to win again, to win the first game in 2016 and again be challenging to win titles throughout the season for this team, the fans and the club.
"We prepare for the new year with plenty of desire and excitement for big games to arrive as quickly as possible."
Espanyol are, meanwhile, 13th in the table with six wins from 17 games. They suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sevilla in the midweek's La Liga game. All odds are stacked against the home side today, but Constantin Galca's side nevertheless boast of a decent record of losing just twice at home this season.
Possible starting XI
Espanyol: P. Lopez; J. Lopez, Roco, Alvaro, Duarte; Diop, Jordan; Asensio, Salva Sevilla, Perez; Caicedo.
Barca: Bravo; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Roberto, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Where to watch the game
Espanyol vs Barcelona is scheduled to kick-off at 4 pm CET (8:30 pm IST, 3 pm GMT, 10 am EST).
In India, viewers can catch the game on Sony Six HD. Online streaming will be available on SonyLiv.
In Spain, viewers can catch the game on Canal+ Liga/HD and Abono Futbol. Online streaming will be available on Movistar TV.
In the US, viewers can catch the game on the beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports en Espanol and Fubo TV. Online streaming will be available on beIN Sports Connect.