Machín’s ideas may have started to take hold with his new team, which on Thursday annihilated Ludogorets Razgrad. Espanyol outshot the Bulgarian champions twenty-five to zero as six different players scored in the 6-0 rout. The result saw the parakeets clinch a spot in the Europa League Round of 32 — their first appearance in knockout stage football since a miraculous run to the 2007 UEFA Cup final.
However, the league table tells a different story about Sunday’s visitors. It’s a side sitting 19th entering this weekend’s action, with six goals from 12 games — on its face, hardly terrifying. But that side will take on an Atlético which slumped to defeat at Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, the team’s first since September, and it was a defeat that had been coming. Diego Simeone’s defense — to be headlined by Mario Hermoso, formerly of Espanyol — is beaten up, and the red-hot Morata is his lone goalscorer right now.
Yet, victory would ensure Atlético’s place in the top four through the upcoming break and would take los rojiblancos ahead of at least Real Sociedad.
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Hermoso, Saúl; Thomas, Herrera, Koke, Vitolo; Correa, Morata.
1-1. Espanyol showed signs of life in a narrow defeat to Valencia last weekend and have won three of the past four meetings with Atlético. And wouldn’t you know it — they’ve scored four times from dead-ball situations in the past four games, a statistic that ought to be very concerning to Simeone’s presently-susceptible defense.
Atleti are more comfortable at home and should play better Sunday. I’ll even call a revenge game and a first goal for Hermoso. But expect Espanyol to have more possession, midfield lynchpin Marc Roca to have the ball at his feet a lot, and corners to come attached with serious danger.
Jeremy’s record on the season: 8-8
How to watch
Date: Nov. 10, 2019
Location: Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Kickoff time: 4:00 p.m. CET, 3:00 p.m. GMT, 10:00 a.m. EST, 7:00 a.m. PST
Available TV/streaming: Mitele Plus, Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Premier Sports 2 (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), DAZN (Italy), FOX Premium (Brazil), Sky HD (Mexico), SuperSport 7 Africa (Ghana), iQiyi (China)