Two sides that finished side-by-side last season meet on the opening weekend of the La Liga season this Sunday, as Sevilla travel to the RCDE Stadium to face Espanyol. By the end of last season, Espanyol finished in seventh place just six points behind their upcoming opponents, who sat one place above them in sixth. When these sides met last season, Sevilla dominated on both occasions, taking all six points from a 2-1 win and a 1-0 win.
David Gallego will be feeling confident in his side’s ability ahead of this opening fixture, with them demonstrating some good form during pre-season. Over the last four games, Espanyol have secured three wins and just one draw. The first of their fixtures had them face Stjarman in the Europa League Qualifiers and after 90 minutes the Spanish side eased to a 4-0 win. They then drew 2-2 with Sheffield Wednesday before beating Stjarman 2-1 in the second leg of their Europa League fixture. The Spanish side’s most recent fixture had them go up against Luzern in the next round of Europa League Qualifiers, and they eased to a 3-0 win.
Sevilla have been enjoying most of their pre-season also, with them heading into the opening game of the season having lost just one of their last four fixtures. Game one saw them take on Liverpool, who they managed to beat 2-1, despite losing a player. Then they went up against Hoffenheim who they also managed to secure a 2-1 victory against, though they then lost to Granada. Finally, Sevilla faced Extremadura UD in their final pre-season friendly, who impressively held onto a 2-2 draw.
We are expecting the hosts to stick with their preferred 4-3-3 formation that we have seen them use throughout last season and preseason. We are likely to see Facundo Ferreyra starting up front on Sunday, with the forward already bagging four goals in the Europa League qualifiers. David Gallego will be without a few players due to ongoing injuries which include the likes of Pablo Piatti, David Lopez and Ander Iturraspe.
Sevilla has no injuries or suspensions to worry about, so will be able to start their strongest XI this weekend. Summer signing Luuk de Jong is expected to get his first domestic league start on Sunday after joining from PSV, where he scored 28 goals in 34 games. Fellow new signings Rony Lopes, Jules Kounde, Lucas Ocampos and Oliver Torres will all be pushing to be involved.
Sevilla took all six points from the two meetings between these sides last season, but both fixtures proved to be close encounters and we expect a similar outcome this weekend. Sevilla can be backed to win for 2.30, while the hosts sit at 3.20. We fancy seeing both sides get themselves on the scoresheet and also over 2.5 goals.