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Barca vs Espanyol Preview: Ousmane Dembele's first chance to prove his worth


Barcelona host local rivals Espanyol in Matchday 3 of La Liga on Saturday at 8:45 CET. You can stream the match directly to your mobile, computer or TV on a FREE trial via FuboTV.

Despite having had the vast majority of their key players away on international duty for 10 days, the Catalan giants are expected to add a further three points to their tally in their quest for the domestic league regardless -- a task that has become even more important after Real Madrid's 1-1 draw vs Levante at the Bernabeu, Los Blancos' second draw in three matches.

Undoubtedly, the potential debut of Ousmane Dembele will have millions of Cules around the world glued to their TV screens. While Barcelona's marquee signing of the summer has not had much time to train alongside his many international teammates, a player of Dembele's quality should not have much of a problem to fit right into Valverde's team. Although it is expected that the Blaugrana manager will use Dembele as a late substitute, the mere fact of watching the French youngster playing alongside Lionel Messi should be well worth the wait.

With both Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez recovering from minor injuries suffered while away on international duty, Valverde could also opt for including Paulinho as a starter alongside Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets. The 29-year-old Brazilian, whose controversial signing has been widely criticised by Cules around the world, will therefore have his first chance to impress the Camp Nou faithful. The Catalan derby against Espanyol is expected to be physically tough in midfield, so Paulinho should hopefully feel at home from the initial whistle.

At his press conference, Ernesto Valverde explained: "Not having trained with the whole team for so many days could be a handicap,but it motivates us to play against Espanyol. They will play aggressively and are a team that likes to play on the counter attack. Our idea is to win and we have to be very concentrated. The Champions League against Juventus? Saturday’s game is important and is our absolute priority."

As we discussed in much more detail Episode 31 of 'The Barcelona Podcast', we expect Valverde to rest regulars and rotate his starting eleven (from 30:40). Here it is:


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