Valverde ready for 'trial by fire' in El Derbi

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The LaLiga leader makes the short trip to its neighbour looking to become only the second visiting team after Girona to triumph at the RCDE Stadium this season.

Espanyol is seventh in the table - just three points off fourth-placed Deportivo Alaves - under the guidance of manager Rubi, who has made a positive impression since his arrival from Huesca in June.

"The distance of points does not count," Valverde said. "This game plays a lot from the heart and little from the head. 

"Beyond what happened against Girona, they have been very strong at home. It is a trial by fire and we all have a hard time winning away from home.

"I also hope there is respect everywhere and a good atmosphere on the field.

"I expect a close game with the chance of us breaking quickly and generating many scoring chances and if that happens, it should benefit us."

Barcelona may be boosted by the return of Luis Suarez, the Uruguay striker having missed the last three games with a knee injury.

Valverde expects to have the player available after returning to training but will not take any unnecessary risks, meaning Lionel Messi may be pushed into a central role in the forward line if Suarez is again absent.

"He [Suarez] is having treatment and we think he can be [fit for] tomorrow," he said. 

"I do not want to worry any more than usual. We have to be careful and ensure that there aren't any further problems.

"We also have the option of Munir, plus the other option to put Messi in there too, so there are possibilities."