Soccer Spain LaLiga Prediction
Rayo Vallecano vs Espanyol - Match Preview
⚽ 21 May 2023 - 12:00 GMT +0
Three rounds after he publicly challenged his players to secure a place in European competition for next season, Andoni Iraola’s ambitions were thwarted by his Rayo Vallecano side putting in a poor effort on the road against both Elche (L 4-0) and Betis (L 3-1). They start this La Liga (LL) round two points behind seventh-placed Girona, but with inferior tiebreak credentials to two of the four teams either one or two points ahead of them heading into this round, they may have to claim it on points alone.
Their two remaining home fixtures against Espanyol and Villarreal could be decisive in determining whether they can qualify for Europe, which consequently could play a big role in whether Iraola signs a contract extension or entertains his suitors such as Leeds United. Regardless, Vallecano should be confident here after three straight 2-1 home wins, including against Barcelona, but a period of ten LL games without a clean sheet across all venues continues to make their job difficult.
Even with their very place in Spain’s top flight on the line, Espanyol appears the least likely LL club to stand in Vallecano’s way of advancing back up the table. After their 17th loss of the LL season, this time into a Derbi Barceloní (4-2), Espanyol finished the round having collected fewer points since the start of March (W1, D1, L9) than any other LL club.
That’s despite a change of manager in April, and whilst new boss Luis García picked up their only win and draw in that 11-game period, he hasn’t been able to stop them from slipping into the relegation zone. Espanyol does have the advantage of finishing their season against three clubs starting this week in the bottom half of the standings, against whom they have taken points home from five of seven LL away trips (W2, D3, L2), whilst a superior head-to-head record against direct competitors Getafe should offer hope.
📋 Players to watch: After opening the scoring against Barça, Álvaro García has won all five of his goal-scoring appearances this LL season (four at home). That stands in stark contrast with Javi Puado, who has scored in each of Espanyol’s last three LL losses!
⚡ Hot stat: All but three of the last 20 LL games involving either club produced more than 2.5 total goals.
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