Sports Mole previews Friday’s La Liga clash between Espanyol and Real Betis, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Real Betis will be looking to make it back-to-back wins in La Liga when they continue their 2021-22 campaign away to Espanyol on Friday night.
Manuel Pellegrini‘s side, who sit third in the table, thumped Alaves 4-0 in the league on Tuesday, while Espanyol will enter the contest off the back of a 2-2 draw with Cadiz on the same night.
Espanyol appeared to be heading for a 2-1 defeat at Cadiz on Tuesday, with Ivan Alejo sending the home side 2-1 ahead in the 91st minute of the contest, but Raul de Thomas came up with a 96th-minute leveller for the Catalan outfit, who currently sit 11th in Spain’s top flight with 27 points from 21 matches.
Vicente Moreno‘s side, who are the reigning Segunda Division champions, have won seven, drawn six and lost eight of their 21 league games this term and currently sit 10 points clear of the relegation zone, so it would be a huge surprise to see them pulled into any sort of trouble towards the bottom of the division.
Consistency has been a real issue for Espanyol this season, though, and they are without a win in their last three games in all competitions, having lost to Elche and Mallorca in the league and Copa del Rey respectively ahead of their 2-2 draw with Cadiz on Tuesday night.
The White and Blues have impressed in front of their own supporters this season, picking up 20 points from their 10 matches, which is the same as Barcelona have managed at Camp Nou.
Betis, meanwhile, will enter this contest off the back of a 4-0 win over Alaves on Tuesday night, with Borja Iglesias, Sergio Canales and Juanmi on the scoresheet in Seville.
The victory was even more impressive considering that Pellegrini’s side had to finish their Copa del Rey last-16 clash with Sevilla on Sunday due to crowd trouble, with Canales netting the winner in the 73rd minute to send the Green and Whites into the next round of the competition.
Betis have won 11, drawn four and lost six of their 21 league matches this season to collect 37 points, which has left them in third in the table, four points clear of fifth-placed Real Sociedad.
Pellegrini’s side look capable of finishing in the top four this season, while they are also targeting success in the Europa League, with Russian side Zenit St Petersburg their opponents in the next round of the competition.
The Greens, who finished sixth in La Liga last term, have the third-best away record in Spain’s top flight this term, while they are unbeaten against Espanyol in the league since October 2017.
Espanyol La Liga form:
Espanyol form (all competitions):
Real Betis La Liga form:
Real Betis form (all competitions):
Espanyol have no fresh injury concerns from their 2-2 draw with Cadiz on Tuesday, while they will be boosted by the returns of Adria Pedrosa and Keidi Bare from suspension.
Fit-again David Lopez could feature in the middle of the defense, but head coach Moreno is expected to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack following the relatively quick turnaround.
Indeed, Raul de Tomas will again lead the line for the hosts, while Adri Embarba and Javi Puado should feature in the final third, with Loren Moron starting on the bench on Friday night.
As for Betis, Martin Montoya, Marc Bartra and Joaquin remain on the sidelines through injury, but Alex Moreno is available after serving a suspension against Alaves.
Head coach Pellegrini is expected to make a couple of changes from the side that started last time out, with Moreno in line to return at left-back, while William Carvalho could feature in central midfield.
Willian Jose has also returned to offer another option in the final third, but Iglesias scored twice against Alaves on Tuesday and should again lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Espanyol possible starting lineup:
Diego Lopez; Gil, Gomez, David Lopez, Pedrosa; Darder, Morlanes; Embarba, Melendo, Puado; De Thomas
Real Betis possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Bellerin, Pezzella, Gonzalez, Moreno; Carvalho, Rodriguez; Canales, Fekir, Juanmi; Iglesias
We say: Espanyol 2-2 Real Betis
Betis could achieve something special this season, and it would not be a surprise to see them secure a spot in the top four in 2021-22. Espanyol’s home form this season has been strong, though, and we are backing the hosts to pick up a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 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 3.5: data