La Liga Betting: Improving Espanyol to frustrate Real Madrid



It's been some turnaround for Espanyol. When Javier Aguirre arrived in Catalonia the team sat bottom of the league; now they are comfortable in 11th. In fairness to departing manager Mauricio Pochettino (now at Southampton), the club had consistently sold their best players and had been overperforming for many seasons. His high demands of individuals may have grated on some, whilst fresh ideas and maybe some experience will have assisted the new man at the helm. Aguirre is close to agreeing a new deal with the club - and will even take a wage decrease.

José Mourinho's recent outbursts are believed to have been part of a wider plan - not necessarily to manoeuvre an exit out of Madrid. Whilst he would love to return to Chelsea, there is still a burning desire to win a tenth European Cup for Los Blancos. The Portuguese boss feels that player power has cost them in recent seasons and by laying all the problems out in the open they can be resolved. But it would be a brave president that changes the dynamic of the club to please a manager not known for hanging around for the long term.

Team news

Cristian Alvarez, Felipe Mattioni and Samuele Longo are on the treatment table for the hosts. Víctor Álvarez and Raúl Baena may be brought into the side to freshen things up.

Madrid's lack of options defensively continues to trouble them, with Álvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos all injured. Whilst Pepe has been frozen out after his recent criticism, youngster Fabinho made his debut last weekend and may be handed a start.

Form

Espanyol have lost just once at home since Aguirre took charge in November. It's 2.55 for the double chance of them to win or draw. Real played out an action-packed match with Málaga; it had red cards, plenty of goals, injuries and a missed penalty as Real Madrid won 6-2. It's 150.00 for Mourinho's team to win by the same score again.

Recent head-to-head

The Catalans had not scored in five attempts against Madrid until last December's 2-2 draw in the capital. Sergio García and Juan Angel Albín were on target that day.

Goalscorer betting

Could a return to Manchester United be on the cards for Cristiano Ronaldo? It's unlikely this summer, with presidential elections due and a sense of unfinished business in Madrid. He scored his 200th goal in 197 matches last week, and is 1.65 to make it 201. Sergio García struck first last time the two sides met. He is 10.00 to do so again.

Verdict

With Madrid's poor away form, a number of key players rested ahead of Friday's final and Espanyol looking to show how far they have progressed, the draw is good value at 4.20.

Bonus bet

All the upheaval in Madrid's defence has taken its toll: the team has conceded in the first half in seven of the last ten league matches. Espanyol are 1.51 to score before the interval.

Score prediction: Espanyol 2-2 Real Madrid (14.00)