Espanyol midfielder Esteban Granero has told www.aclsports.com that this is a good time for his side to beat local rivals and league leaders Barcelona when both teams face at the RCDE Stadium on Saturday night.
Granero, 31, is one of the most experienced stars in the Espanyol fold having previously played for Real Madrid and Getafe and he is confident his side can end their current winless sequence to have one over the defending LaLiga Champions.
Aclsports Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo asked Granero if Saturday’s game offers them the best opportunity to beat Barça considering Ernesto Valverde’s men’s struggles at times this season.
“I cannot say if this is the best time but I know this is a good time,” replied Granero to www.aclsports.com
“Every time is a good time because our supporters will be waiting for us to win and last year we were not playing as good as we are this year and even though we beat Barcelona 1-0 at home in the Copa Del Rey, we were almost winning at the LaLiga game until the last minute.
“So, every game here in our stadium against Barcelona is always very tough for them and they will not be very happy to come here to play because they are going to suffer and we will give our best because we know everybody is watching us,” adds the midfielder who has made eleven LaLiga appearances this term.
Rubi’s men have had a great start to the season, currently placed seventh on the league table and seven points adrift of leaders Barcelona. However, they have lost their last three league games and this crunchy derby could not have come at a more difficult period.
Table toppers Barça have been boosted by the return to training of star striker Luis Suarez and midfielder Arthur on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s Catalan Derby but Espanyol’s chance of winning the game might well rest on the performance of perhaps the biggest star in LaLiga, Lionel Messi.
Messi, alongside Suarez have nine league goals this term and the Argentine has the highest assists in LaLiga so far with seven assists. Granero acknowledges that it is always difficult to face stars like Messi but hopes his team can get the job done nonetheless.
“It’s always challenging to face these kind of players. I’m sure Messi is one of the best players for the last ten years in the world and it feels so good to face these kind of players and I have huge respect for these kind of players that can be at the top for up to ten years.
“The way to stop them is never easy. I have won against Barcelona with Getafe and also with (Real) Madrid also with Sociedad and Espanyol so it can be done. The thing is you have to prepare very well and you have to keep the intensity very high and of course wait for these players not to be at their very best but every time you know you’re facing these players, the talent makes me happy,” added Granero.
The weekend’s round of LaLiga matches will start on Friday night when Kenneth Omeruo’s Leganes welcome Getafe Estadio Municipal de Butarque while apart from the late kick off on Saturday between Espanyol and Barça, Samuel Chukwueze’s Villareal will hope to move further clear of the relegation zone when they host Celta de Vigo at the Madrigal.
Second placed Sevilla will travel to Valencia while Atletico Madrid will face Deportivo Alaves at the Wanda Metropolitano. Real Madrid will be guests to Huesca on Sunday afternoon.