Espanyol captain Victor Sanchez says his team hope that nerves weigh on Barcelona in Sunday evening's Catalan capital derby at the Camp Nou.
Barca go into the weekend knowing they will win the La Liga title should they take six points from their remaining two games, but with both Atletico Madrid [level on points] and Real Madrid [just one point back] waiting to capitalise on any slip-up from Luis Enrique's team.
The situation is very different to about a month ago, when Barca appeared to be sailing to the title only to pick up just one point from four games, although they have since steadied the ship with wins against Deportivo La Coruna, Sporting Gijon and Real Betis.
The possibility of losing out on a trophy they had previously almost had within their grasp will make Barca nervous in Sunday evening's game, the Espanyol skipper said in an AS interview, especially if it is still tight during the second half.
"They are human," Sanchez said. "They know they had La Liga won a month ago, and now they have no margin for error. That could weigh on them. For sure they will be nervous if we can keep it at 0-0, 0-1 or 1-0. If they score quickly against us, they could go on and score more. But that they are playing with La Liga on the line could weigh on them."
Sunday's game comes with memories still fresh in the city of three heated derbies last January. A goalless La Liga meeting at Cornella-El Prat on Jan. 2 was marred by racist chants from home fans aimed at Barca forward Neymar and coach Luis Enrique.
That was quickly followed by a Copa del Rey clash which saw Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez stamp on Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, and forward Luis Suarez banned for two games after a postgame tunnel confrontation. The Copa return game was scarred by Espanyol fans insulting Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique's wife and son.
Sanchez said what had happened had "not been nice," although he said his team felt hard done by as they were singled out for criticism.
"It was not nice or good for the club and the fans," he said. "They did not treat us well, we were left as the guilty parties and the criticism was unfair. I hope this game will remain on the pitch."
Fans at Espanyol's 1-0 home win over Sevilla last weekend chanted that they wanted another Tamudazo -- a reference to the 2006-07 final day when Raul Tamudo famously scored at the Camp Nou in the last minute to deny Barca the title.
Sanchez claimed that he and his teammates were motivated by a need to pick up the win they still need to be mathematically safe from relegation this year.
"Our fans are motivated by [denying Barca the title], but for us we want to avoid relegation," he said. "That is our goal and we want to do it as soon as possible. We must go out to the death, lift our fans, and beat them. That is what concerns us, not what Barcelona do."