The international break has dragged on a bit, despite Kosovo’s heroics and Scotland warming up for a crunch home tie against San Marino next month, but La Liga is finally back this weekend. The three rounds already disputed are but a distant memory (we hope), and this weekend’s fixtures represent a chance for a fresh start (we really really hope).
Espanyol occupy 19th position in the table, having failed to score a goal in any of their opening three matches. Not a great start. In fact, it ranks 16th in the list of worst-ever starts to a Spanish league season in terms of goals scored. Should Espanyol fire another blank this Sunday against Eibar, they will be guaranteed to break the top 10. However, they still have a way to go to match the mythical Málaga side that waited until the seventh round of the 15/16 season to break their duck, when Charles exploded into life with a hat trick against Real Sociedad. Where did they end up that season? Eighth! There you have it, no need to panic.
As fate would have it, Charles could line up for Eibar this weekend, having made the move to the Basque country two years ago. One of those Brazilians with a satisfyingly bland name (Fred, Malcom, eh… Alisson?), he will compete with Sergi Enrich for a place up front. Encouragingly, Eibar are level with Espanyol on one solitary point, having lost narrowly away to Mallorca and Atlético Madrid, with a goalless draw at home to Osasuna sandwiched in between. Would Espanyol Fan Blog take a goalless draw this weekend? Is the Pope catholic?
This may seem a somewhat pessimistic outlook, but bearing in mind that we welcome Ferencváros to the RCDE stadium next Thursday, it is important to get another point on the board. The Europa League still has to be the priority, and anyway, next week we have a home game against Real Sociedad. Even Málaga scored against them! The stars have aligned.
It appears unlikely that Wu Lei and Matías Vargas will be involved from the start for this one, having only just been reincorporated into training this morning after returning from international duty. Some very sketchy research suggests that they will have covered over 50,000km between them in the last couple of weeks. That’s a lot, isn’t it? They didn’t swim it, of course, but, you know, they’ll still be tired.
The clash at Ipurua will also come too soon for David López and Piatti, who are in the final stages of their respective recoveries from injury. Adrià Pedrosa, however, may return. The rocket of a left-wing back has been out for a month due to quad trouble, but rejoined full training on Wednesday. Rejoice! We don’t want to overstate the importance of a player who, after all, only has 12 career La Liga appearances under his belt, but this could be a real turning point for the blanc-i-blau. David Gallego’s plan for Espanyol seems to be to attack down the flanks, with poachers like Ferreyra and Calleri hunting in the area. The ability of the full-backs to overlap and deliver with quality from the byline is essential. This could be the first chance we have to see Corchia and Pedrosa roaming in tandem, and hopefully bringing balance to the side. It has to be said that playing the same system with Dídac and Javi López in the same positions makes little to no sense.
Let’s be optimistic then: we’d also take a 1-1 draw.
Naldo was thrown to the journalists in the press room today, and responded to inspiring questions like, “Is the fact that the team hasn’t scored any goals yet a worry, and is it something you’ve been working on in training?” The Brazilian initially seemed confused by the lack of imagination, even in this least imaginative of settings, before mumbling something about it not being the strikers’ fault and the whole team having to improve and they’re going to score hundreds of goals once they just get started. To be honest, we weren’t really concentrating by the end.
Kick off is at the ungodly hour of 12 noon on Sunday. Any pericos making the journey will have to rough it in the home section, as the away end is undergoing refurbishment and therefore no tickets have been available to Espanyol members. The 19/20 managerial merry-go-round is well and truly up and running after the famously patient owners of Watford and Valencia got itchy trigger fingers over the break. A positive result on Sunday , or at the very least an encouraging performance, might stop Chen from getting any ideas.
EFB is off gallivanting again this weekend, so keep up to date with us on Twitter, and we’ll be back here on Monday. ¡Vamos Espanyol!