Espanyol v Rayo Vallecano – Estadi Cornellà-El Prat at 19:30 live on Sky Sports 1
The battle to survive the La Liga relegation race looks like going right to the wire and on Monday night, two teams in the midst of the battle lock horns in Barcelona.
Espanyol find themselves just two points above the bottom-three having been comprehensively beaten 3-0 at home to Real Betis on Thursday night. However, eight of Constantin Galca’s charges were affected by an untimely bout of gastroenteritis in midweek.
Surprisingly, the Parakeets boss opted to field all of Victor Alvarez, Victor Sanchez, Burgui, Marco Asensio, Hernan Perez, Gerard Moreno, Abraham and Alvaro Gonzalez in that Betis encounter – a plan that spectacularly backfired.
All eight should be back to full fitness on Monday night and Espanyol are expected to feature Felipe Caicedo at the forefront of their offence with Abraham in the hole and Marco Asensio and Hernan Perez operating from the flanks in an attack-minded approach.
With Galca in charge, the hosts have returned W2-D2-L2 at Cornella-El Prat but the home side’s longer-term trends when welcoming bottom-half dwellers should give Espanyol backers plenty of optimism.
The Parakeets have W11-D5-L2 when teams in 11th and below have visited since the start of last season and Galca’s troops are aided by a number of absentees in Rayo Vallecano’s preferred XI.
Paco Jemez’s guests are without the suspended Manuel Iturra and Diego Llorente whilst Miku is sidelined until the end of March. Jose Angel Crespo will be forced to deputise at the heart of the back four alongside Ze Castro but in-from Manucho should at least soften the blow of losing Miku.
Rayo fear no one and will look to implement their attractive possession-based ideology again here. Los Franjirrojos will dominate the ball, look to play out from the back and get forward as much as possible. Unlike against the league’s big-hitters, the capital club do enjoy great success when taking on bottom-half sides.
Since promotion back to Spain’s top-flight under Jemez, Rayo have W18-D11-L14 away – that’s an average return of 1.51 points-per-game – as they’ve failed to find the net in only nine of those 43 fixtures. The visitors also arrive in decent nick – Thursday’s 5-1 stuffing by Barcelona was only their second reverse in 10 (W2-D6-L2).
Espanyol should be targeting this game for a maximum-point return but having faced only three of the top-eight on home soil, the Parakeets still boast the second worst shots-on-target ratio as hosts in La Liga (45.28%). Only Betis and Las Palmas are averaging fewer efforts on-target when welcoming league opposition.
In contrast, only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Las Palmas have landed more shots-on-target than Rayo when playing away and although their shots-on-target ratio figure is trumped by half of the division, the danger signs are there for Espanyol to heed.
With that in mind, I much prefer to play the goals market and Over 2.75 Goals looks a real treat at 1.97. These two clubs have conceded 111 goals between them already this season with Espanyol’s tally of 53 their worst record at this stage of a La Liga season since 1956.
The Parakeets have shipped at least two goals in eight of their most recent nine and seen the Over 2.5 Goals selection collect in eight of those nine outings. The hosts have kept their sheets clean on just three occasions since November.
Rayo’s last seven on the road have featured at least three goals with Jemez’s trailblazers notching at least twice themselves in each of their last four away days, as well as in seven of their 13 on their travels this term. Including home matches, Los Franjirrojos have leaked two or more goals in 13 of their past 15 La Liga encounters.
Since Rayo arrived back in the top-flight, a huge 45/70 (64%) of their games outside of their Vallecas base have beaten the 2.5 goals line and I reckon Monday night’s match will follow suit. A huge 30/70 (43%) have also crept across the Over 3.5 Goals target, making over 2.75 Goals a decent ploy at a nice price.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 Goals at 1.97
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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