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Monday August 12 2019
Sevilla look to pip Espanyol in La Liga opener

Sevilla's trip to Espanyol on the opening weekend of La Liga is an intriuging tie, but Rajan Hothi explains why Julen Lopetegui's men are favourites.

Espanyol host Sevilla in their season opener as David Gallego's side look to avenge the two losses they suffered to their opponents last season. A 2-1 victory in the Andalusian capital, coupled with a 1-0 triumph at the Cornellà-El Prat stadium, saw Sevilla complete the double over the Catalan side. But the main question for football bets is, will they be able to repeat the trick next Sunday?

Form

Espanyol will be heading into this clash full of confidence after they made light-work of Icelandic side Stjarnan in the Europa League second qualifying stage winning 7-1 on aggregate. Pre-season victories against Peralada, Lens and a 2-2 draw to Sheffield Wednesday has seen encouraging signs from the Spanish outfit. They do play Swiss side Luzern in the third qualifying stage on Thursday in Switzerland.

Sevilla will be thrilled with their pre-season as they emerge victorious in all four of their friendlies. Wins against Reading, FC Dallas, Hoffenheim and perhaps most impressively, Liverpool, saw Julen Lopetegui's side endure a 100% record in pre-season so far.

Key Battles

Diego Lopez vs Wissam Ben Yedder

The experienced Diego Lopez will have to be at his best to keep out prolific French-striker Wissam Ben Yedder who will be looking to start his season with a bang. Ben Yedder bagged 30 goals in all competitions last season, 18 of which came in La Liga, and he will be looking to improve on that impressive tally this season as he looks to showcase his impressive goalscoring exploits again. Ben Yedder has been linked with an exit this summer but could be key should Sevilla retain his services.

Diego Lopez was a mainstay in the Espanyol side that finished seventh last season and achieved European football. The 37-year-old will be key in Espanyol's chances of success in the encounter as he will be the last line of defence against a potent attacking side.

Sergi Darder vs Fernando

The midfield battle will no doubt be key in this clash as new signing Fernando will look to control the middle of the park. The 32-year-old, who has spent time in England and Turkey with the likes of Manchester City and Galatasary, arrived from Turkey for a €4m fee and he will be eager to impress on his competitive debut.

Sergi Darder became an integral member of Espanyol's side last season and he will be dealt with the challenge of winning the midfield battle against the experienced Fernando. It promises to be a good clash between two midfielders key to their side's success.

Sevilla's quality to show

Sevilla's potent attack should be enough to see off Espanyol. Ben Yedder notched against their opponents twice last season, both goals proving to be the winner, and he will be eager to repeat the feat next Sunday. Espanyol are undoubtedly a good side, but it is tough to see them getting the better of the visitors.

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