Fresh from their first away win of the season, los Periquitos will look to pick up maximum points against los Granotes...
Espanyol finally put their acute travel sickness behind last weekend to claim a somewhat unlikely win at the home of Mallorca, and now Mauricio Pochettino’s side will look to build on that success when they meet Levante on Sunday afternoon.
Los Periquitos may have struggled on the road this season, losing heavily at Villarreal and Real Madrid before their most recent fixture, but at the Cornella-El Prat they have made themselves very much at home. Pochettino has witnessed his side pick up maximum points on their own ground, and the Argentine will expect his men to maintain this record against their newly promoted opponents.
The early season form displayed by the Barcelona club has promoted them into sixth place in La Primera Division, but the former centre-back is refusing to get carried away by the club’s lofty status this early in the campaign. “The league is very long and we must keep our feet on the ground,” he told the media after last weekend’s success.
Even last term, when Espanyol finished in the middle of the table, they were tough to beat at their new home. Only four league matches have been lost by Pochettino’s men at the Cornella-El Prat since it opened for business in the summer of 2009, and it would be a surprise if los Granotes weren’t added to the list of scalps come Sunday.
Levante had something of a baptism of fire in La Liga, thumped 4-1 in each of their opening two matches against Europa League outfits Villarreal and Getafe. Luis Garcia’s side have learned their lessons impressively after those two set-backs, holding Real Madrid to a scoreless draw and piecing together a four match unbeaten run that continues to the present time.
Last weekend at home against Real Sociedad, los Granotes put together their most complete performance of the season to date to pick up a 2-1 victory and propel themselves to 13th spot. Asier Del Horno was the unlikely scorer of their opening goal, a Felipe Caicedo’s effort five minutes later ensured Jeffrey Sarpong’s late effort counted for nought.
After their defensive debacles in the opening weeks of the campaign, the Valencia side now look a far tougher unit to break down, giving their offence something to build on. The aims of the club remain modest; they are simply trying to garner enough points to avoid the relegation zone, so they are certainly not getting carried away by their fine burst.
When they were last in La Liga, Levante lost 1-0 in Espanyol to a goal from the late Dani Jarque. In the return leg, which was played late in the season with los Granotes already cut hopelessly adrift, they picked up a 1-1 draw, despite being reduced to 10 men, and a repeat would be warmly welcomed.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is suspended after being dismissed last weekend, while fellow attacker Luis Garcia is also absent for a similar reason.
Ivan de la Pena and Carlos Kameni are slowly increasing their workloads but are not ready yet, while Chica remains sidelined too.
Xisco Munoz has been ruled out for three weeks after picking up a problem last weekend, while serious injury to Ruben Suarez has been ruled out, though the player is liable to sit out this weekend. Rafa Jorda and Vicente Iborra were both absent against Real Sociedad due to injuries.