Early in the season, when it seemed that all we could do was draw matches, we had an uninspiring 0-0 with Espanyol. Now, with the ‘business end’ of the season here, these are three points at home we really need to pick up.
Espanyol may be fourteenth in La Liga but they have one player who could get playing time at any club in this league and that is Raul de Tomas. The former Real Madrid striker who was stupidly passed over for the likes of Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz has 13 goals so far this league season to go with three assists. He’s extremely dangerous.
We haven’t actually beaten Espanyol since October of 2019 and four of the last 7 matches with them were draws. This is a proud club who is hard to beat, and they have 8 draws this campaign as well. They haven’t won a match yet in 2022, so the threat isn’t so much about losing to this team as it is dropping a valuable two points at a crucial point in the season.
I don’t expect we’ll have Gerard for this one, but we have a lot of other players getting match fit and I feel like this is the point where you reintroduce Boulaye Dia into the starting lineup. A true striker presence was very much needed against Juventus and Dia was excellent in that role before leaving to go to AFCON. In terms of formation, I think Unai is pretty committed to a 433 at this point so long as he has Parejo, Capoue, and Lo Celso all together. The introduction of the Argentine into the midfield has given a ball carrying quality that blends very, very well with the things Parejo and Capoue do well. It remains to be seen whether we buy him this summer (may need to make the Champions League again to afford that) but in the meantime he’s crucial to what this side does.
I think we find our goal and win this one 1-0.