Espanyol hope to kick-start survival bid against Alavés


A win at home to mid-table Alavés on Saturday afternoon could breathe new life into rock bottom Espanyol’s fight to avoid relegation to La Liga 2.

Where they stand

The hosts are currently rock bottom of La Liga and will stay there even with three points on their return, unless they can win by at least half a dozen goals.

Unsurprisingly for a team sitting 20th, they have the league’s worst defensive record, with 46 conceded in 27 matches.

It would be easy to assume the Catalan side are ‘too big to go down’, but with only four wins so far this season, a drastic improvement on their pre-coronavirus form will be required to stave off relegation.

El Periquitos did show signs of life before the Spain entered lockdown, going unbeaten in their last five home matches, (one win, four draws) after gaining just a single point from their first eight matches at the RCDE Stadium this season.

Alavés’ away form could also provide a boost, with the visitors registering just nine points from 13 games on the road in 2019-20.

The Basque team haven’t won away at Espanyol since 2002, but playing behind closed doors could nullify any home advantage.

Deportivo should also face little pressure as La Liga plays to its summer conclusion, sitting seven points above the drop zone in 14th and need just one or two more wins to be sure of safety.

When these sides last met back in August, it finished goalless.

Team news

Espanyol will be missing experienced former Real Madrid number one Diego Lopez, who was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in their 1-0 defeat at Osasuna last time out.

Oier Olazábal is set to deputise in goal ahead of Andres Prieto according to local reports, whilst in front of him Uruguayan defender Leandro Cabrera, a January addition from Getafe, will try to plug the gaps in their leaky defence.

The hosts have been relying on another winter addition for goals; Raul De Tomas has got four in six appearances since joining from Benfica, but he may not complete 90 minutes on Saturday due to knee tendonitis restricting his training.

He’s likely to be supported by Chinese international forward Lei Wu, who has been linked with a move to Wolves this week.

Alavés should have a fully fit squad to choose from. Goals this season have been shared between former Arsenal and West Ham striker Lucas Perez (11) and ex-Newcastle attacker Joselu (nine).

El Glorioso’s main source of creativity could be former Cardiff midfielder Victor Camarasa or Scottish winger Oliver Burke (on loan from West Brom).

Oliver Burke has only registered one goal for Alaves this season (credit: Daily Record)


Espanyol head coach Abelardo has dismissed critics who have already consigned his boys to the second-tier next season.

“There have been good games: Barça, Athletic [Bilbao], Villarreal, Atlético [Madrid]. I don’t care what people think, if they give us up for dead.

“Mentally [the break]has served to free us from the bad memory of the last game.

“We come with clean minds and with great hopes of achieving this and giving us tremendous joy.

“We have a very important game, the first to achieve the goal, and the team is going to go for it.

“We all start from scratch; it is a totally different league but hopefully no one will beat us.”

Visiting boss Asier Garitano also reckons his side will have to treat their return to action like the start of a new season.

He said: “After this pandemic and so many days without competition, those previous states of mind no longer exist. We all started from scratch.

“Now it’s another league, it’s like starting again in an 11-game league, but with no time between games to prepare for them in the best way possible. It’s going to be important to stay calm and have a good mindset.”

On his side’s first opponents since the lockdown, the Alavés manager added: “Espanyol, even though they are in relegation positions, have not lost any game at home since Aberlardo’s arrival and that marks the difficulty.

“The home factor is eliminated and we will see how footballers adapt, because it will be a rare situation, since we have never played without people and the adaptation will be key.”


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