Espanyol suffered a big blow to their European hopes as they were beaten by Atletico Madrid, but los Periquitos can return into contention for Europa League places with three points from this match. Sporting Gijon sit six points adrift of safety after beating Rayo Vallecano at home, but their performances on the travels don’t give them any reason for optimism before the trip to Barcelona.
European dream slowly fading
Espanyol have come a long way since Mauricio Pochettino took over the reigns a couple of years ago, and the mere fact the team are now fighting for European places shows how much they have progressed over the last two years. Nonetheless, while los Periquitos remain a force to be reckoned with at their Cornella El Prat, their showings on the travels have been way below the expectations and poor away form is the main reason why the team are still few points away from Europa League places. The 3-1 defeat at Vicente Calderon showed that Espanyol are not yet ready to match the best sides in the league away from home, but the 4-0 victory over Valencia in their last home game can give Mauricio Pochettino’s side plenty of reason for optimism before the clash with one of the worst travelers in the elite division. The hosts can further close the gap behind their top 6 rivals with three points from this match, which should give them enough motives to produce another solid home showing.
Cristian Alvarez, Vladimir Weiss and Romaric have all recovered from injury, but Juan Albin has been ruled out for the season.
Six points behind safety
Sporting Gijon have been flirting with relegation ever since they returned to the top flight in 2008, and after narrowly surviving the drop three years in a row, it looks as though they won’t be so lucky this term. With just four games to go, Sporting sit six points adrift of safety and their chances of avoiding the drop are slim to none. Home wins over Levante and Rayo Vallecano boosted team’s survival hopes and helped the team restore some of the lost confidence, but it is their performances on the travels that remain the biggest issue. Having picked up just 2 points from last 10 away games in La Liga, Sporting clearly have nothing to hope for before the clash with one of the best home sides in the top flight. Seeing they are fighting for their lives at the moment, the visitors will not lack motivation at Cornella El Prat, but that alone cannot bring them a positive result.
Sebastian Eguren, Canella, Ivan Hernandez and Carmelo are all sidelined through injury and they will be sorely missed.
Espanyol are a real force to be reckoned with at their Cornella El Prat and after recording a 4-0 victory over Valencia, they should be able to beat Sporting as well. The team from Gijon have nothing to hope for after bringing just 2 points from last 10 travels, so home win looks a banker here.
Our prediction: Home win
Odds: 1.70 (7/10)
Bookmaker: Stan James