Wolves vs Espanyol prediction: Wolves 3-1 Espanyol
Will Wolves continue their European tour?
Nuno Espírito Santo’s side were so impressive in the group stages and are many people’s dark horses to make it to the final in Gdańsk.
Also, given this is their first European campaign since 1980, they’ll be desperate to go as far as possible.
Will they win at Molineux and take a lead to Catalonia?
Highlights of Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0 Beşiktaş
Highlights of Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 Leicester City
Highlights of Sevilla 2-2 Espanyol
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Espanyol: Who will win?
Hosts Wolverhampton Wanderers are odds on favourites to win this first leg at 8/13.
Espanyol meanwhile are 9/2 to win in England for the very first time.
A draw, which would be a better result for the away side, is 11/4.
Over 2.5 goals is 10/11.
Both teams to score is also 10/11.
Wolves to win and both teams to score is 5/2.
Wolves are 2/5 to qualify; Espanyol are 7/4 to make the round of 16.
Raúl Jiménez has scored 20 goals this season, nine of which have been in the Europa League. He is 14/5 to open the scoring and 11/10 to keep up his record.
Adama Traoré, as a former Barcelona player, will be desperate to beat his old rivals. He is 13/2 to score first and 13/5 to score anytime.
Facundo Ferreyra is Espanyol’s top scorer with eight. He is 15/2 to break the deadlock and 3/1 to add to his tally.
Wǔ Lěi will also be a threat. The Chinese forward is 12/1 to score first and 5/1 to score anytime.
Both Jiménez and Traoré to score is 7/1.
Both Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota to score is 20/1.
Both Adrián Embarba and Jonathan Calleri to score is 45/1.
Both Marc Roca and Sergi Darder to score is 110/1.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Espanyol: Match preview
Will Wolves march on in the Europa League?
Their first European campaign for 39 years began back in July in the second qualifying round.
However, they swept aside Crusaders, Pyunik and Torino, scoring 19 goals, to reach a UEFA group stage for the very first time.
Their matchday one home clash with Braga was highly anticipated but the Portuguese side left with a shock 1-0 win.
Nevertheless, all was forgiven a fortnight later thanks to Willy Boly’s 93rd minute winner in Istanbul against Beşiktaş.
Nuno Espírito Santo’s side would then beat ŠK Slovan Bratislava 2-1 away and 1-0 at home before a thrilling 3-3 draw in Braga saw them qualify with a game to spare.
Despite a 4-0 home win over Beşiktaş on matchday six, they had to settle for second spot.
Given the seeded teams they could have drawn, Espanyol is not as daunting a prospect as it could have been.
However, they do not come into this clash in particularly good form.
On Friday night, they were held to a goalless draw by Leicester, a second consecutive goalless game following their trip to Old Trafford 13 days earlier.
That means Wolverhampton Wanderers have won just one of their last seven league games although they are seventh which should get them back into Europe next season.
First though, their attention is on this current continental adventure.
European nights at Molineux have been memorable this season.
Will Wolves build up a lead to take to Spain next Thursday?
Can Espanyol claim a shock win?
As for Espanyol, their domestic and European form couldn’t be more Jekyll and Hyde.
Just like their hosts, they are back in Europe after a long wait and started in the second qualifying round.
Back in the summer, they scored seven, six and then five as Stjarnan, Luzern and Zorya Luhansk were easily dismissed.
In the group phase, they kicked off with a 1-1 home draw against Ferencváros.
But, three successive wins followed; 2-0 against CSKA in Moscow before they beat Ludogorets Razgrad 1-0 in Bulgaria and 6-0 at home.
Periquitos finished with a 2-2 draw in Hungary and a 1-0 home defeat to CSKA but had already comfortably topped Group H.
However, their form in La Liga could be described as catastrophic.
By Christmas day, they’d won just two of 18 Liga games and sacked two managers; David Gallego and Pablo Machín.
Abelardo came in during the winter break and he has steadied the ship, amassing nine points from six games.
This includes a 2-2 home draw with Barcelona in El derbi Barceloní, in his first game.
They also got an impressive 2-2 draw on Sunday, holding Sevilla at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
Adri Embarba scored a free-kick before half time before Wǔ Lě scored a vital second half goal.
Despite this, Espanyol remain bottom of the table but are now just two points behind Mallorca and safety.
On Sunday, they travel to Real Valladolid in what will be a relegation six-pointer.
First though, the Europa League will continue to provide a welcome distraction.
In their last European campaign in 2006/07, they got all the way to the final, losing to Sevilla at Hampden Park.
However, they’ll need a positive result at Molineux surely if they to avoid defeat in this tie.
Can the Spanish strugglers shock Wolves?
Wolverhampton Wanderers team news vs Espanyol
At times this season, Nuno Espírito Santo has made three of four changes to his XI for European matches.
However, having had six days to prepare with a winter break before that, he’s likely to name his strongest side, looking to take a big lead to Spain.
Goalkeeper Rui Patrício is a Premier League ever present and has started ten of the 12 Europa League games.
Can Portugal’s number one add to his ten clean sheets this season?
The rest of the team ahead of him will be very familiar.
Captain Conor Coady has played 3,600 minutes this season and Willy Boly will also start having just returned from an injury.
Romain Saïss will continue to make up the back three; Max Kilman is the other option with Ryan Bennett having left in January.
At wing-back, Matt Doherty has already been involved in six goals this season, scoring twice in the Europa League.
On the other side, with Rúben Vinagre a doubt, Jonny will keep his place.
In the centre, there was a surprise omission against Leicester.
João Moutinho was left on the bench on Friday having started 75 of 84 games since joining the club.
However, he’s likely to return to rekindle his partnership with Rúben Neves at Leander Dendoncker’s expense.
Further forward, after picking up an injury at Old Trafford, Adama Traoré was also a substitute last time out.
However, he will return to the XI with Pedro Neto expected to keep his place ahead of Diogo Jota.
Morgan Gibbs-White and January recruit from Olympiacos Daniel Podence are the other options.
There’s only one man who will start up front though.
Raúl Jiménez has already scored against Crusaders, Pyunik, Torino, ŠK Slovan Bratislava and Braga in this competition.
Will he add Espanyol to that list and fire his side to a win?
Espanyol team news vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
As for Espanyol, they were heavily rotating their team during the group stages.
However, now under Abelardo and with this being a knockout tie, he’s also not expected to make too many changes.
Diego López is the first choice goalkeeper and will keep his place ahead of Andrés Prieto.
The defence is likely to be unchanged from Sunday’s draw at Sevilla.
Captain Javi López will keep his place at right-back over Víctor Gómez.
Bernardo Espinosa, Leandro Cabrera and Adrià Pedrosa will make up the back four with Fernando Calero the man left out.
In midfield, with David López injured, and Víctor Sánchez, who was sent off on Sunday, will anchor ahead of the defence.
Alongside him, Ander Iturraspe could come in for Marc Roca.
Further forward, there could be a change from the weekend to a move conventional front two.
Adri Embarba will keep his place on the right with Matías Vargas coming in on the left with Sergi Darder dropping out.
Facundo Ferreyra and Óscar Melendo are the other options.
Up front, they are without Raúl de Tomás who has scored four goals in four appearance since joining from Benfica for €20 million in January.
He picked up an injury in training last week so is a major doubt.
So, the Chinese Super League’s record goalscorer Wǔ Lěi will lead the line alongside Jonathan Calleri.
The former has scored seven goals this season including netting against CSKA Moscow, Getafe, Sevilla and Barcelona.
Will La Liga’s bottom club leave Molineux with a win?
Predicted Wolverhampton Wanderers line-up vs Espanyol
Predicted Espanyol line-up vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Highlights of Beşiktaş 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Highlights of Slovan Bratislava 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Highlights of Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Slovan Bratislava
Highlights of Braga 3-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Highlights of Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona
Highlights of Villarreal 1-2 Espanyol
Highlights of Espanyol 1-0 Mallorca
All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
Premier League table:
|15||Brighton & Hove Albion||32||7||12||13||34||44||-10||33|
|16||West Ham United||32||8||6||18||38||56||-18||30|
La Liga table:
|13||Real Betis Balompie||33||9||10||14||43||54||-11||37|
|15||Deportivo Alaves Sad||33||9||8||16||32||50||-18||35|
|17||RC Celta de Vigo||33||7||13||13||32||42||-10||34|
|20||RCD Espanyol Barcelona||33||5||9||19||27||53||-26||24|