The hosts saw off Rayo Vallecano 2-1 at the weekend in a major boost to their survival prospects, while Diego Simeone’s men cruised past Osasuna 3-0.
A true captain’s performance from Sergi Darder inspired Espanyol to victory during their trip to mid-table Vallecano at the weekend, as the Spaniard clinically found the bottom corner to break the deadlock before Raul de Tomas restored parity from the spot just before half time.
Luis Garcia’s side may have conceded at arguably the worst time, but with 59 minutes gone, Darder’s curling strike crashed off the crossbar, and the ball fell kindly for Nico Melamed to convert the rebound and propel Espanyol to a hard-earned three points.
Espanyol’s cause was also helped by Getafe failing to take a maximum against basement side Elche, and Garcia’s side enter the midweek round of fixtures sitting just one point below the Azulones and Real Valladolid in 19th place before the latter tackle Barcelona on Tuesday.
For all of their shortcomings at the other end of the field this term, making the net ripple has never been a problem for Espanyol, who have remarkably scored in 20 of their 21 La Liga games since the World Cup, the one aberration being a goalless draw with Cadiz on April 21.
Garcia’s side also have a respectable two clean sheets to show from their last three home contests, although they shipped four to Barcelona during their most recent battle at the RCDE Stadium, and Atletico Madrid certainly possess the taste for goals at present.
For a short while, it seemed like it was going to be one of those days for Atletico Madrid against Osasuna. Within the first 15 minutes of Sunday’s contest at the Wanda Metropolitano, Alvaro Morata had two goals ruled out for offside, while Antoine Griezmann’s long-range attempt crashed the post on its way behind.
However, Osasuna’s resistance was finally broken on the stroke of the half-time whistle through a fine finish from Yannick Carrasco, which opened the floodgates for Saul Niguez and Angel Correa to get in on the act in the second half during another eye-catching triumph for Simeone’s charges.
As is the case with their hosts, Atletico also took advantage of their rivals’ slip-ups at the weekend and have risen above Real Madrid into second place thanks to Valencia’s 1-0 win over their city rivals, and Los Rojiblancos are now guaranteed to be playing Champions League football again next season.
As well as their recent glut of goals, a first clean sheet in seven games versus Osasuna would have also been a sight for sore eyes for the previously pragmatic Simeone, but Atletico head to Espanyol having suffered two defeats in their last three away games – being stunned 1-0 by already-relegated Elche earlier this month.
Espanyol managed to hold Atletico to a 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital back in November, but Simeone’s side ran out 2-1 winners at the RCDE Stadium last season and are unbeaten in five against their Catalonian counterparts since a shock 3-0 beating away from home in May 2019.
Espanyol La Liga form:
Atletico Madrid La Liga form:
We say: Espanyol 1-3 Atletico Madrid
Both sides have found the back of the net in the last five meetings between Espanyol and Atletico Madrid, and such a sequence should certainly continue on Wednesday given their respective penchants for goalscoring.
The hosts certainly have more to play for than their podium-chasing visitors at this stage, but their lingering defensive concerns should prove fatal against a rampant Atletico crop, who should right the wrongs of their loss to Elche with a resounding win to plunge Espanyol back into demotion danger.