Sports Mole previews Thursday’s La Liga clash between Espanyol and Rayo Vallecano, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Rayo Vallecano will be looking to ease their relegation fears in La Liga when they make the trip to RCDE Stadium on Thursday evening to take on Espanyol.
The away side are currently 14th in the table, five points clear of the relegation zone, while Espanyol occupy 12th spot in Spain’s top flight, 10 points ahead of the bottom three with six games left.
Espanyol have won 10, drawn nine and lost 13 of their 32 La Liga matches this season to collect 39 points, which has left them in 12th spot in the table, some 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
The Catalan outfit are not mathematically safe from the threat of relegation, but it would be a huge surprise if they were pulled into trouble from this position, and the White and Blues should be looking up the table rather than down, sitting just three points behind 10th-placed Valencia.
Espanyol won last season’s Segunda Division to secure an immediate return to this level, so avoiding a relegation battle this term was their number one priority and that has been the case thus far.
Vicente Moreno‘s side have won two of their last four league matches but will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 defeat, losing late at Atletico Madrid on Sunday, with Yannick Carrasco finding the back of the net from the penalty spot in the 10th minute of added time at the end of the 90.
Espanyol have been strong in front of their own supporters this season, meanwhile, picking up 31 points from 16 matches, recording nine wins in the process, and they will be welcoming a Rayo outfit that have struggled to make their mark on the road during the 2021-22 campaign.
Indeed, Rayo have the second-worst away record in Spain’s top flight this term, picking up just six points from 15 matches, but their home form has been strong, collecting 28 points from 16 games in front of their own fans.
In the first half of the campaign, the Madrid club had the look of a team capable of making a surprise push for a European finish, but they have struggled for results in recent months.
Los Franjirrojos have not actually been victorious in Spain’s top flight since the middle of December, and they will enter this match off the back of a damaging 1-0 defeat to basement side Alaves on Saturday.
As it stands, Andoni Iraola‘s side are 14th in the table, just five points clear of the relegation zone, but they crucially have a game in hand on every team in the league apart from Barcelona and are still in a strong position to avoid dropping back into the Segunda Division .
Rayo recorded a 1-0 win over Espanyol when the two teams locked horns in the reverse match earlier this season, but they have been beaten on their last two visits to the Catalan outfit, including a 2-1 loss in February 2019.
Espanyol La Liga form:
Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:
Espanyol are in excellent shape ahead of this match, with the home side expected to have a fully-fit squad unless there are any late setbacks in the build-up to kickoff.
Yangel Herrera was suspended against Atletico at the weekend but is also available for this match, and the 24-year-old is likely to return to a midfield area for Moreno’s team.
The team is expected to be similar to the one that took to the field for the first whistle against the reigning Spanish champions on Sunday, although Aleix Vidal could replace Oscar Gil as the right-sided wing-back.
As for Rayo, Radamel Falcao, Martin Merquelanz and Esteban Saveljich will again miss the match through injury, while Ivan Balliu is suspended due to his red card against Alaves.
Balliu’s absence will open the door for Kevin Rodrigues to come into the back four, while there could also be an alteration in the final third, with Oscar Trejo potentially replacing Randy Nteka.
Sergi Guardiola will again lead the line for the visitors, with Alvaro Garcia and Isi Palazon featuring out wide, while Oscar Valentin and Santi Comesana should continue in the middle of the defense.
Espanyol possible starting lineup:
D Lopez; Calero, S Gomez, Cabrera; Vidal, Herrera, Darder, Pedrosa; Puado, De Tomas, Vilhena
Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Rodrigues, Maras, Catena, F Garcia; Valentin, Comesana; Palazon, Trejo, A Garcia; Guardiola
We say: Espanyol 2-1 Rayo Vallecano
Rayo are more than capable of making this an uncomfortable match for Espanyol, who were so close to claiming a point at Atletico on Sunday. However, the capital outfit have struggled away from home for much of the season, and we are expecting Espanyol to put another three points on the board here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5: data