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Espanyol at Villarreal- Preview

Gotta win.

2018/19 UEFA Europa League group stage: Spartak Moscow vs Villarreal Photo by Sergei Fadeichev\TASS via Getty Images

Last time out, against Orihuela, I predicted a ‘walk in the park’. My bad. I will refrain from that verbiage this time around but for pete’s sake we ought to win this one.

Our Opponents

Espanyol are a proud club that actually got a draw against city rivals Barcelona in their last league match, but very little else in their season has gone right. They’re bad. Dead last in La Liga. Their xGA (expected goals against) for the season is mediocre, which is to say it’s the bright spot. Their xG (expected goals) for is the worst in the league, and they haven’t even managed to match that number.

Their GK is 38 years old, they have no forwards with more than two goals, they’ll probably be in Segunda next season. No excuses, we should win this thing. In 47 appearances against Espanyol, we are 16-20-11 and have outscored them 61-49 but we have not beaten them in both matches in a single season since 2013-2014. Espanyol have a different manager than the last time we faced them, and Aberlardo Fernandez has abandoned the three in the back system we saw for a 4-4-2 in each of his matches in charge so far.

Espanyol was the first club in Spain to be formed entirely by Spaniards. Their supporters call them the “periquitos” which may sound confusing because periquitos are a bird that in the wild is green and yellow, while Espanyol wears blue and white. However, in the early days of the club they wore a yellow shirt (with the players choosing their own short color) because a local textile mill happened to have yellow fabric left over. I’m sure there’s a joke about away fan periquitos in a bird cage at El Madrigal to be formed by someone more clever than me.


Quintilla and Anguissa are both one yellow card away from a suspension. With our next match coming against second tier (though still dangerous) Girona, I would not be shocked to see Anguissa in particular take a late yellow, sit out the Copa Del Rey game, and then be back for the next league match against Alaves.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out tactically, as I mentioned above Espanyol has a new manager and a new formation. The possession is likely to be fairly even but I don’t expect Espanyol to be that expansive. We aren’t much of a crossing team anyway and with two banks of wide players out there for the opposition finding a way through the middle of their defense will be really important.

We’ll drop the squad list in here once it becomes available.


Espanyol has drawn Barcelona and won their Copa Del Rey match since their new manager was appointed. I don’t think this will be an easy one by any means, but I do think we’ll win 2-1.