Our prediction for this Europa League match:
After rolling over Luzern in the Europa League third qualifying round, Espanyol will be looking to move one step closer to booking their place in the group stages of the European competition with a win over Zorya at their RCDE Stadium. The Catalans are a real force to be reckoned with at home and it seems as David faces Goliath in Barcelona on Thursday evening.
Los Periquitos proved their worth in routine back-to-back wins over Luzern and we are positive that they are going to give fans yet another reason for celebration this weekend. Zorya, on the other hand, outplayed ten-man CSKA Sofia to set up a meeting with Espanyol and considering that the Ukrainians will be without suspended attacker Nazariy Rusyn in the return leg, we are tempted to put our money on the hosts. You should know that Espanyol recorded nine wins in previous ten home games in the Europa League.
Highlighted Player (Javi Lopez):
Javi Lopez is Spanish footballer who plays for La Liga side Espanyol. Lopez plays for the Catalan outfit as a midfielder, but he is capable of playing at full back as well. After spending his youth career at Real Betis, he moved to Espanyol in 2007 and he was playing for the B squad between 2007 and 2010.
Under Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino he was promoted to the first team and he has been playing for Espanyol in La Liga ever since. He made his Espanyol debut on 4 October, 2009 in a goalless draw with Villarreal. Javi Lopez was born in Osuna, Andalusia, but he lives with his family in Barcelona. The Spanish player was born on 21 January.
His contract with Espanyol expires on 30 June, 2018 and it has to be noted that his market value in July, 2016 was €3 million. Following Sergio Garcia’s departure he was named Espanyol captain for the 2015/2016 La Liga campaign.
Highlighted Team (Zorya):
Zorya are a professional football club that compete in the Ukrainian Premier League. The club was founded in 1923 and in 1972 they won Soviet Top League. Speaking of competitions in Ukraine, Zorya made it to the cup final in the 2015/2016 season, with the team losing to Shakhtar Donetsk (0-2) in the title game.
Despite suffering the loss to the Miners in the Ukrainian Cup final, Zorya made it to the Europa League group stages. It has to be noted that the Ukrainian team played out a 1-1 draw with Fenerbahce on their debut in the group stages of the European competition. Slavutych Arena has been the home ground of the club since 2014 and you should bear in mind that they played at Avanhard Stadium from 1951 to 2014.
Before the World War II Zorya played their home games at Lenin Stadium. The club’s home colours are black and white. Anatoliy Kuksov is the club’s most capped players, making 517 appearances for Zorya in all competitions.