Espanyol are big outsiders when they take on the reigning La Liga champions this weekend, but they look worth backing to record a draw.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best online sportsbooks, we can see that the bookmakers are taking no chances with Real Madrid against Espanyol as they’ve priced the reigning champions at between -210 and -175. The home side is rated as big underdogs at odds varying between +400 and +435, but if you think Espanyol can earn a draw, you can wager on that outcome at +400.
|Espanyol v Real Madrid|
Espanyol Providing Entertainment
Espanyol’s 2021/22 campaign was a rollercoaster ride for their fans, as they made an excellent start to life back in the topflight before losing their form completely in the second half of the season, eventually avoiding relegation by just four points.
And they are once again providing the entertainment in the new season under new coach Diego Martinez. In their opening game against Celta Vigo, they trailed 2-0 after 63 minutes but somehow salvaged a point thanks to a goal by Joselu eight minutes into injury time. Their second game of the season saw two red cards and a 2-0 defeat to another of last season’s mid-table teams, Rayo Vallecano.
A Strong Start for Real
Real Madrid will be expecting a stronger challenge this season from Barcelona than they saw last time round, but they have made a strong start to their attempts to retain their title.
They had to work hard in their opening game away to Almeria, but goals Lucas Vazquez and David Alaba in the last twenty minutes earned them a 2-1 win. They followed up that late offensive onslaught – which saw them register 29 shots during the game – with a convincing 4-1 win at Celta Vigo. Again, they had to work hard to establish supremacy, but from 1-1, they scored three goals without reply to secure the win.
With very little significant transfer business taking place this summer, there may be some concerns about squad depth, particularly if Karim Benzema picks up a major injury, but there was very little that needed fixing on a team that completed the rare Champions League – La Liga double last year and all the signs are that Carlo Ancelotti’s team will be just as effective this time around.
La Liga Betting Team News
On-loan goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte conceded two goals from three shots on target in the opening game against Celta Viga and conceded two more against Rayo Vallecano, so Espanyol coach Martinez may be tempted to make a change here, and Martinez will also have to cope without Sergi Gomez, who was sent off against Rayo Vallecano and serves a one-game suspension.
Both Edu Exposito and Joselu are in good form, having both scored in the opening game, and teenager Luca Koleosho is pushing Ruben Sanchez hard for a place in the starting line-up, so there are plenty of options to choose from in forward positions, while Javi Puado, one of their key contributors last season may also get a starting role, having come off the bench against Rayo Vallecano. Brian Olivan and Oscar Gil will also have important roles to play as key attacking outlets at full-back.
The team news for Real Madrid is positive as Carlo Ancelotti is likely to have wide forward Rodrygo available for this game. The Brazilian star has missed both games so far this season due to muscle discomfort, and with Marco Asensio’s future at the club uncertain, Ancelotti has had few options to fill in at the wide attacking positions. If Rodrygo is available, he is likely to play in the front three alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior, with Federico Valverde dropping to the bench.
Toni Kroos is likely to be absent for this one as he is still recovering from flu, and it isn’t clear whether Alvaro Odriozola will be available, though it has been reported that the right-back has been training in recent days.
La Liga Match Betting Pick
On paper, this should be an easy win for Real, who are already in strong goalscoring form, while Espanyol have yet to record a win and are missing a key defensive influence in Gomez.
And while Real have not been at their very best, there has been little in their two La Liga games to suggest that they are weaker than last season. Still, given the struggles that Barcelona and Atletico Madrid went through last year, it is hard to say for sure how much better the eventual champions were than their eternal rivals, and with little upgrading in the summer, this could be a hard title to defend.
They can’t afford to be complacent either against unpredictable opponents. Espanyol’s players won’t have to delve into the archives to find when they last beat Real. Their last win against Los Blancos came in the equivalent fixture last season when a second-half Benzema goal was not enough to overturn a 2-0 Espanyol lead.
Martinez is an excellent coach, and this is a high-profile game for which Espanyol players may well be able to raise their game, and while a win may be beyond them, the draw looks a good pick.