5. Espanyol carry on early season form
Rubi’s tenure at the Barcelona outfit has started well with 10 points from his opening six games. It’s even more impressive considering how poor their summer transfer business was, with Gerard Moreno and Aaron Martin both leaving the club.
Their early season form has been built on an impressive home record with maximum points from three games, but they’re yet to win away. Promoted side Rayo Vallecano provide an ideal opportunity to end that early in the season. If they harbor any ambitions of finishing in the European places after such an impressive start then they need to consistently earn points in away matches to build on the platform they have created from turning the RCDE stadium into a fortress.
Rayo have lost by a combined score of 9-2 at home against Sevilla and Alaves. Espanyol aren’t the most offensive-minded team by any means, but they could compound their opponent’s misery at home with another thrashing. Their organized defensive approach is at odds with Los Franjirrojos’ expansive set-up which has seen them score five and concede 12, although xG numbers suggest they’ve been unlucky, with 7. 94 xG and 8.48 xGA, per Understat.
This is unlikely to be the match where they start to find form, though. Espanyol’s approach will frustrate them because they have the tactical versatility to either absorb pressure and catch them on the counter or press high to force turnovers. They proved how organized they are defensively by holding Los Blancos to one goal in their loss at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Center-back Mario Hermoso is currently Los Periquitos’ top scorer with two goals as they have been shared around the team, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Borja Iglesias and Leo Baptistao add to their tallies in a convincing display from the surprise of the season so far.