RCD Espanyol vs Atletico Madrid
It’s third against 20th at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday, as Atletico Madrid continue their chase at the top as they take on bottom club Espanyol.
Home advantage has rarely worked well for Los Periquitos this season and they find themselves five points from safety. Meanwhile Atleti seem to be gathering some momentum towards the business end of this La Liga season, but head coach Diego Simeone will be taking no chances against the struggling Catalans.
Espanyol head coach Abelardo will set his side up to fight like tigers, they have recently picked up a couple of encouraging results, collecting two red cards on the way, so the Madrid giants can expect a fight.
Could Calleri make the difference for Espanyol?
Los Periquitos are entrenched at the bottom of the La Liga table, five points behind Celta Vigo who sit in 17th place, and the latest La Liga 2020 prediction sees them to take the drop along with Leganes and Real Mallorca.
Finishing seventh last season was a great achievement for Espanyol, but the Europa league can be a poisoned chalice. The Thursday-Sunday routine can be draining for smaller teams with limited squads, but it came to an end this week for the La Liga bottom club.
Jonathan Calleri scored a hat-trick in Espanyol’s 3-2 Europa League win over Wolves last night, but it wasn’t enough to overturn a first leg four goal deficit. So now league survival is the total focus.
The Argentine striker joined Espanyol on loan from Deportivo Maldonavo at the start of the season but hasn’t set the world alight, but a hat-trick against a talented Wolves side might just give his, and Espanyol’s season the lift it needs.
Los Periquitos’ struggles are not down to any lack of passion. Midfielder Victor Sanchez was sent off in the recent 2-2 draw away to Sevilla when Espanyol were within ten minutes of pulling off a massive win, before Suso equalised for the Champions League chasing hosts.
Sanchez could be recalled for the clash with Atleti, while fellow midfielder David Lopez will be sitting it out having picked up his own red card in the last league outing against Valladolid.
But the home fans can take some encouragement from their last two visits to the RCDE stadium. Prior to the second leg victory over Wolves, Espanyol beat fellow strugglers Mallorca 1-0.
Rojiblancos look well set for the run-in
Atleti’s home game against Villarreal last week resulted in an impressive 3-1 win over an in-form Villarreal, and the return from injury of Joao Felix has been a boost, as he scored the third with a long range effort.
And Simeone’s men were at their best to beat Liverpool in their Champions League first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano. Saul Niguez gave Los Rojiblancos an early lead and then they simply shut the Reds out, limiting them to eight speculative efforts and not a single shot on target.
Atleti are out of the title race, ten points behind second placed Real Madrid, but they need a fast finish with Sevilla level on points in fourth, and Getafe just one point further back.
The games between these two sides have given plenty of success to both. Of the 50 games played since 1995 Espanyol have won 17 to Atleti’s 21 and there have been 12 draws.
Espanyol won this fixture last season by 3-0 to clinch their Europa League spot, but they had a helping hand from former Atleti defender Diego Godin who set them on their way with an own goal, a rare moment of generosity from the Uruguayan rock!
The recent win over Real Mallorca was the hosts’ only home win of the league season, as they have lost seven and drawn four. And Atletico come into the game in good form with three wins and a draw.
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