Preview: Espanyol-Alaves

Espanyol’s Europa League hopes are on the line this Saturday against Alaves, whose season risks petering out prematurely.

Espanyol lost 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao midweek to give the Basques the initiative in the race for European qualification next season, and Quique Sanchez Flores urged his side to “enjoy” their remaining eight games.

“They compete very well at all times, within their limitations,” the Coach said at a Press conference.

“They’re having a fantastic season, they’re enjoying themselves like we would ourselves.

“We’re going forward and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We must think positive.

“We want to enjoy ourselves until the end of the season. It’s been a fantastic season, the fans have enjoyed themselves. We’re scoring lots of goals, the fans are excited.

“Either we follow in that line or we get stuck in pessimism. We have to learn how to turn the page.”

Los Periquitos welcome back top goalscorer Gerard Moreno from suspension for the visit of Alaves, whose 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid last weekend was followed by a shock home reverse to basement boys Osasuna.

However, Coach Mauricio Pellegrino came out fighting when speaking to the media before the game, highlighting that his team were all-but-safe from the drop.

“The other day, it was said that we were in no man’s land, but do we want to be Granada or be a team that are 15 points adrift?” he noted.

“We’re in a privileged position and I’ll make sure that my players are at 100 percent in each game. We’re a demanding club and technical staff.”

Espanyol (confirmed): Diego Lopez; Javi Lopez, David Lopez, Diego Reyes, Aaron; Piatti, Roca, Victor, Jurado; Gerard, Caicedo

Injuries/suspensions: Fuego (S) Oscar Duarte (I) Jose Antonio Reyes (I)

Alaves (confirmed): Pacheco; Ely, Laguardia, Feddal;, Femenia, Llorente, Camarasa, Manu, Theo; Edgar, Deyverson

Injuries/suspensions: Galilea (I) Katai (I) Krsticic (I) Raul Garcia (S) Sobrino (I)

Referee: Melero Lopez

Form guide: Espanyol (L W D W L) Alaves (L L W W D)

Previous meeting: Alaves 0-1 Espanyol

Kick-off time: 12:00 BST/13:00 CET