The city of Barcelona looks likely to have two teams playing European football next season, with Espanyol just needing to avoid a near-impossible upset at home to Luzern in this Europa League qualifier, having won the first leg 3-0 away last week, in order to make it to the final play-off round before the competition proper. Swiss side Luzern have been something of a surprise package to make it this far but couldn’t match the La Liga side last week.
The difference in quality between these two teams was evident from the first minute to the last of Espanyol’s 3-0 win in Luzern last week. New signing Facundo Ferreyra, who had an excellent record at Shakhtar Donetsk, has hit the ground running in the early qualifiers; he scored his fourth of the competition so far in last week’s first leg, when he headed in Oscar Melendo floated cross for his fourth goal of the team’s qualifying campaign, while they stepped things up a gear in the second half. Didac Vila smashed the best goal of the game home into the top corner just after an hour, before Matias Vargas added the gloss with the third late-on, a long-distance effort in the dying minutes. It was a comprehensive victory, with the Luzern defence looking out of their depth.
With a tricky opening fixture against Sevilla in La Liga this weekend, and the job pretty much done here, there could be several changes here. Borja Iglesias will have been disappointed not to make it four in injury time last time out, and could lead the line this time out. Chinese international Wu Lei turned a few heads last season and appeared off the bench last time – he could make an appearance from the off here, with Ferreyra being kept fresh for Sunday’s fixture.
Luzern will likely go with the same again as they look to restore some pride in Catalonia. Goalkeeper Marius Muller did well to keep the score at just three last time out, and will be back between the sticks this time, with Blessing Eleke and Shkelqim Demhasaj hoping to feed on more than scraps further forward on this occasion.
Espanyol were so comprehensively better than Luzern last week that it would be a fool’s errand not to repeat the trick on home soil. The hosts to win 3-0 again can be backed at 8.00 with Bet365, with odds of 4.33 for them to win by four goals or more. Expect plenty of goals either way – more than 2.5 is available at 1.47.