21 February 2020
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Espanyol go head-to-head at the Molineux Stadium in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League (EL) Round-of-32 tie that will also be the first-ever meeting between these two sides.
Wolves are through to the EL Round of 32, having finished runners-up in Group K behind a Braga side that inflicted the only loss on them in the group stage (W4, D1, L1). Three of their four Group K successes came via a single-goal margin, with two yielding the same 1-0 scoreline. Particularly dangerous in the second half, the Wanderers have scored eight of their total 11 EL goals after the break (72.73%). Nuno Espirito Santo will again lean upon his airtight defense to deliver him a positive outcome here. Indeed, Wolves have kept three clean sheets in the group stage, allowing just five goals – with only six teams conceding fewer goals than them. However, the hosts are having a difficult 2020, having picked up just one win in eight competitive games since the turn of the year (D4, L3), drawing a blank in three, including the last two.
Meanwhile, the visitors finished top of Group H ahead of Ludogorets, Ferencvaros, and CSKA Moscow to seal a place in the knockout stages in their maiden EL campaign. Although the Spanish side finished their group stage campaign with a whimper rather than a bang (D1, L1), three consecutive wins ‘to nil’ prior proved enough for them to advance to the last 32. Interestingly, 50% (six) of the 12 Group H goals scored came in a 6-0 dismantling of Ludogorets, with Espanyol scoring over 1.5 match goals only twice in the other five group stage matches. Impressively, the ‘Periquitos’ head to England on a run of 13 consecutive European away games without a loss (W8, D5). But, nailed to the bottom of La Liga table, they have won just once in their last five competitive outings (D2, L2), with three of them featuring under 2.5 goals.
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