A 2-0 La Liga (LL) loss to Girona at home ended Sevilla’s chances of slipping into the running for European football next season. Sevilla continues to generate unexpected results in both the domestic and continental arenas. Even if Real Madrid wins the Copa del Rey final and advances to the Europa Conference League play off round in seventh position, Sevilla has lost a lot of ground and begins this round six points under that threshold.
They should avoid getting comfortable when playing Espanyol, a team that is fighting for its future in the La Liga, by keeping an eye on that potential opponent. With an undefeated W5, D3 LL home record, Sevilla has at least proven to be dependable while hosting teams who joined them in the lower half of the rankings at the beginning of this round.
A victory over Espanyol would have practically been a lock one week ago. The parrots appeared to have had their wings clipped at the beginning of March after falling from 12th to the relegation zone during an eight matches winless streak (D1, L7) that ended last weekend. Before the start of the midweek games, their 1-0 home victory allowed them to overtake direct rival Getafe and move up to 18th place, though that is still not enough to guarantee survival.
Following his first League of Legends victory as a manager in five tries (D1, L3), Luis Garca advised his team to celebrate with a whisky but stressed that they had only “laid the first stone” and “have not done anything” yet. The next challenge is to achieve just their second LL away victory against a team that was ahead of them in the standings at the end of the previous round (D5, L8), especially if Espanyol don’t want their forthcoming matches against Atlético Madrid or Barcelona to become must wins.
Erik Lamela has scored goals in four of Sevilla’s triumphs in competitive action this year, including the reverse H2H. Joselu of Espanyol, who also scored against Sevilla previously, still has one goal to score to match his season’s total of 14 LL goals.
Marcao’s first campaign at Sevilla has been hindered by injury, and the defender will not play against Joan Jordan on Thursday.
Tanguy Nianzou, who has missed Sevilla’s last two games, could also be unavailable for the hosts.
Jesus Navas, Ivan Rakitic, and Suso might all start again after being sent to the bench at the weekend.
For the guests, Jose Gragera has missed the last two games due to an injury, and the 22 years old is uncertain to travel to Andalusia.
Javi Puado might replace Martin Braithwaite in the starting lineup because Braithwaite will serve a one match ban for receiving too many yellow cards.
Only Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski have more goals in La Liga this season than Joselu, and the Espanyol striker will be eager to increase his 14 goals total when he starts in the forward line on Thursday.
Sevilla possible starting lineup
Fernando, Rakitic, Navas, Bade, Gudelj, Acuna, Dmitrovic, Ocampos, Suso, Gomez and En-Nesyri.
Espanyol possible starting lineup
Pacheco, Calero, Gomez, Cabrera, Gil, Melamed, Suarez, Darder, Pedrosa, Puado and Joselu.
We predict: Sevilla 2-1 Espanyol
The visitors will be trying to capitalize on a Sevilla team that might be focused on their Europa League match against Juventus next week.
However, Espanyol’s backline has performed poorly in recent away games, and we believe that Sevilla will edge Espanyol by a slim margin.