Barcelona poised to clinch Spanish La Liga title this weekend against Espanyol
Barcelona are on the verge of clinching the Spanish La Liga title this weekend after a four-year gap. The club needs only two points from the remaining 15 to secure their first domestic league win since 2019. Barcelona's first opportunity to win the title is on Sunday when they visit Espanyol. The Blaugrana are missing Sergi Roberto through injury, but otherwise have a fully fit squad for the trip. Coach Xavi Hernandez is set to go with his strongest line-up, or at least the one he has relied on in the biggest games, including Gavi on the left side of attack. The Catalan giants are comfortably leading the table, 13 points ahead of Atletico Madrid, and are in a position to break the deadlock. Xavi's team holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, and Real Madrid, last year's champions, are 14 points behind in third place. In their history, Barcelona have won 26 La Liga league titles, the second most behind the 35 of Real Madrid. The last time Barcelona won the Liga trophy was when Lionel Messi was still the leader of the team coached by Ernesto Valverde. That marked the end of eight league titles in 11 seasons, coupled with three European Cups. Since Messi's departure, Barcelona has experienced a financial crisis that led to a decline in their performance. The club managed to win the 2021 Copa del Rey under Ronald Koeman but ended up empty-handed in the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons. To turn things around this season, the club's leadership had to make a controversial decision to sell off part of their future television revenues and other assets to sign new talent, including star striker Robert Lewandowski, winger Raphinha, and defenders Jules Koundé and Andreas Christensen. Sergio Busquets, the 34-year-old midfielder, is set to add to his 32 titles with Barcelona, including eight Spanish leagues, before he ends his career at the club this season. He announced his departure on Wednesday. The Catalans face a derby at a rival in desperate need of pulling off an upset. Espanyol are in danger of being relegated to the second division next season, sitting in second-to-last place, three points behind Getafe, also in danger, and Valencia, who are currently clinging to safety. The game will feature a contest between Lewandowski, who leads the league with 19 goals, and Espanyol striker Joselu Mato, the competition's third top scorer with 14. In their previous match in December, a second-half penalty earned and converted by Joselu earned Espanyol a 1-1 draw at Barcelona. Barcelona have been in control of the title race for almost two months since beating Madrid 2-1. If they fail to secure the title against Espanyol, they will have four more chances starting against Real Sociedad in the following La Liga fixture.
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