Espanyol vs Athletic Club predictions and match preview for Saturday’s LaLiga fixture. Read on for analysis, team news and predicted lineups as the hosts start life under new management.
|Saturday 8th April 2023
Espanyol vs Athletic Club Preview
A new dawn begins at the RCDE Stadium this weekend as Luis Garcia takes charge of Espanyol following the sacking of Diego Martinez. Athletic Club provide the opposition, fresh from the disappointment of a Copa del Rey Semi-Final defeat to Osasuna.
Espanyol’s struggles under Diego Martinez has been one of the more surprising elements of this LaLiga season, given he arrived with a big reputation following the wonders he worked with Granada. A return of 27 points from 27 games and 18th place heading into April makes the decision understandable to a large extent, although it’s hard to avoid the sense of deeper problems at this club given the rate at which coaches continue to come and go.
Goalkeeping problems early in the season resulted in many dropped points and given how tight things are at the bottom, Espanyol would probably be sitting in mid-table or just below were it not for that. However that doesn’t explain everything that has gone wrong with 4 straight defeats with a team that was significantly strengthened in January ultimately spelling the end for Martinez.
Luis Garcia is a popular figure at the club he played for from 2005 to 2011. However he has a big job on here with his only previous managerial experience coming with Internacional, effectively Real Madrid’s C team, in the Spanish lower leagues.
Athletic Club have problems of their own with things tailing off quite badly following a strong start to the season. They are still in contention for European qualification via the league but much of the excitement remaining for the season was focused around the Copa del Rey and a winnable Semi-Final against Osasuna.
They were the better team for much of the 2nd Leg in midweek but Pablo Ibanez fired in a fine goal for Osasuna four minutes from the end of Extra Time to send the Pamplona-based side through into the Final. Athletic must now pick themselves up and go again in the league with their current 7th place potentially good enough for European qualification.
Team News & Possible Lineups
Possible XI: Pacheco – Gil, Cabrera, Montes, Ruben Sanchez – Souza, Darder – Braithwaite, Denis Suarez, Puado – Joselu (4-2-3-1)
Coach: Luis Garcia
Possible XI: Simon – Yuri, Inigo Martinez, Yeray, De Marcos – Vesga, Dani Garcia – N. Williams, Sancet, I. Williams – Guruzeta (4-2-3-1)
Coach: Ernesto Valverde
Score Prediction: Espanyol 1-1 Athletic Club
It’s hard to see Luis Garcia finding an overnight solution to some of Espanyol’s problems with little to suggest the players had really turned against his predecessor. There are clear defensive flaws that Athletic can potentially exploit but Espanyol should be well backed under the guidance of their popular new boss for the first time and ought to get a result.
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