By David Goulbourn

When: 2:45PM EST, Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Where: RCDE Stadium, Barcelona, Spain

Betting Line: OFF

TV Coverage: beIN SPORTS en Español

 

RCD Espanyol (13-10-9) welcome Atletico Madrid (19-8-5) to the RCDE Stadium on Saturday in a La Liga clash that sees the teams in 9th and 3rd place go head to head. The last time these 2 sides met was back in December when they played out a 0-0 draw at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid.

RCD Espanyol come into this game just 4 points outside the Europa League qualification spots. They are one of 5 teams who are separated by just 5 points in the race to finish in 5th and 6th in La Liga and it looks to be a race that will go right down to the wire. Manager Quique Sánchez Flores knows that his side must keep winning and hope that results go their way if they are to qualify. Atletico Madrid currently sit in 3rd place and are 3 points ahead of Sevilla behind them. With an 11-point cushion to Villarreal in 5th place their Champions League qualification is all but assured, but manager Diego Simeone will be keen to hang out on to that all important 3rd place spot which guarantees automatic qualification to next seasons Champions League.

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid come into this game as the form team in the league and have won 4 of their last 5 games, drawing just 1 which was against league leaders Real Madrid. Last time out in La Liga they comfortably saw off Osasuna 3-0 with Yannick Carrasco grabbing himself 2 goals and Filipe Luis adding another before Atletico Madrid missed 2 late penalties in the game. This week also saw Atletico Madrid progress in the Champions League at the hands of Leicester City after a 2-1 victory on aggregate saw them move on to the semi finals. Manager Diego Simeone may shuffle his pack this weekend to avoid any tired legs following their midweek excursions.

RCD Espanyol

RCD Espanyol come into this game having won 3 of their last 4 games and appear to be finding some form at just the right time to mount a Europa League qualification challenge. Last time out they beat Leganes 1-0 thanks to a 91st minute strike from Leo Baptistao. It was the Brazilian forwards first goal since his return from the injury that had seen him miss 3 months of the season and he will have been delighted to get back on the score sheet. RCD Espanyol have struggled to score goals this season and are the lowest scorers in the top half of the La Liga table with just 44 goals scored in their 32 games.

Key Points

1. Atletico Madrid have the best defensive record in La Liga and have conceded just 24 goals.

2. Atletico Madrid have lost just 1 of their last 10 games away from home and have a fine record on the road this season.

3. RCD Espanyol have won 4 successive games at the RCDE Stadium after winning just 4 of the previous 12.

The Pick

Atletico Madrid have been in great form recently but RCD Espanyol are strong at home and I can see a draw being the most likely result here on Saturday.

RCD Espanyol 1, Atletico Madrid 1