The pick of the round in Spanish La Liga will not involve Real Madrid or Barcelona but it will rather be a battle between two high-flying sides, Espanyol and Villarreal. The Montjuic outfit are just three points behind the Champions League places after registering three straight victories, whereas Villarreal lie in third after beating Osasuna and Real Sociedad.
Amazing home record
Espanyol have been lingering in the relegation zone when the club made a risky move and appointed former player but at the time yet unproven coach Mauricio Pochettino, but that would prove to be a remarkable decision as the Argentine managed to transform los Periquitos into genuine top table side. Espanyol have been thoroughly impressive this season, despite mostly relying on very young players and they are now in a position to fight for the Champions League berth. Seeing that Espanyol won every single home game in La Liga this season apart from the one against Barcelona, the hosts have reason to hope they can beat Villarreal and further close the gap behind the Yellow Submarine, while looking to continue the great scoring run that saw them bag nine goals in last three games. They are, however, likely to have problems containing Villarreal strikers after defenders Victor Ruiz and Didac Vila left the club for Napoli and Milan respectively.
Raul Baena is doubtful with a leg injury, but Aldo Duscher should be fit to play. Ernesto Galan and David Garcia return to the side, while Pablo Osvaldo, Ivan de la Pena and Felipe Mattioni remain long-term worries.
40 goals in 20 games
Villarreal, too, have been pretty impressive this season and the Yellow Submarine currently lead the rest of the pack with Barcelona and Real Madrid in another world as far as La Liga is concerned. Juan Carlos Garrido’s side boast almost perfect home record, having dropped just two points in 11 home games this term, but they are also looking to improve their performances on the travels. The visitors are aware they can eliminate Espanyol from the top 4 race by beating them at Montjuic, although that is easier said than done considering Villarreal’s showings on the travels. Nonetheless, with players like Rossi, Cazorla and Nilmar in the side, the Yellow Submarine have more than enough potential to hurt Espanyol’s weakened defence, although their own back line will be under constant pressure as well.
Striker Nilmar returns to the side following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but Marcos Senna, Juan Carlos and Angel Lopez remain sidelined.
Espanyol have only lost to Barcelona at home this season and los Periquitos are looking to extend the amazing run and at the same time close the gap behind Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine always play attacking football and they will be going for a win in this match as well. In a match between two attack-minded teams that are also full of confidence, over 2.5 goals looks like a logical choice.
Our prediction: Over 2.5 goals
Odds: 1.98 (39/40)