Nuno Espirito Santo’s men enjoyed a terrific start to the season, but since the turn of the year their early-season form has deserted them a little, picking up just one win this calendar year.
Visitors Espanyol are enduring a nightmare season. Having surpassed expectations by finishing seventh in La Liga the previous year, they currently sit rock bottom and are on their third head coach of the campaign.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Thursday 20 February|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is It Played?||Molineux Stadium|
|TV Channel/Livestream?||BT Sport ESPN|
|Who is the Referee?||Tobias Stieler|
Nuno has the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from for Thursday night’s clash. Having missed the draw with Leicester last Friday due to a hamstring injury, Ruben Vinagre is expected to be available for selection.
The Spanish outfit can’t boast such luxury. Long-term casualty Sebastien Corchia is again set to miss out with a knee injury, while Raul de Tomas, Victor Campuzano and David Lopez all remain a doubt for the trip. Coach Abelardo Fernandez will be hoping to be able to call upon the services of centre-back Bernardo after he picked up a knock in the weekend draw with Sevilla.
|Wolves:||Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Adama, Jimenez, Jota|
|Espanyol:||Lopez; Rios, Bernado, Cabrera, Pedrosa; Roca, Sanchez, Wu, Darder, Embarba; Callen|
This will be the first time the two teams have met and is also Espanyol’s maiden encounter with an English side. Wolves have faced Spanish opposition on one previous occasion and it resulted in their heaviest European loss to date.
Espanyol’s city rivals Barcelona inflicted a 4-0 and a 5-2 hammering on the side from Molineux back in 1959/60, resulting in a 9-2 aggregate defeat.
Wolves are far from firing on all cylinders and have failed to score on either of their last two outings. Despite having only picked up a single win since the turn of the year, Nuno’s men will feel aggrieved not to have taken all three points from their last game against Leicester.
Espanyol’s recent form has been improved. The side from Barcelona have been beaten just once in their last six La Liga games. However, their form over the season has not been good, having mustered just four wins in 24 league games this season.
Here’s how the two teams have performed in their last five fixtures.
|Wolves 0-0 Leicester (14/02)||Sevilla 2-2 Espanyol (16/02)|
|Manchester United 0-0 Wolves (01/02)||Espanyol 1-0 Mallorca (09/02)|
|Wolves 1-2 Liverpool (23/01)||Granada 2-1 Espanyol (01/02)|
|Southampton 2-3 Wolves (18/01)||Espanyol 1-1 Athletic Bilbao (25/01)|
|Manchester United 1-0 Wolves (15/01)||Real Sociedad 2-0 Espanyol (22/01)|
There’s been much talk of whether this Wolves squad could cope with the workload that comes with competing on the European front as well as domestically. Up until the turn of the year they seemed to be answering their critics emphatically, however, their form has since dipped.
However, Thursday night’s clash sees Nuno’s men take on an Espanyol side bottom of their domestic league and struggling for consistency. He will know that a good result in the home leg of this tie could see them rest key players in the reverse fixture on February 27.
Expect Nuno to try and give his side as much breathing room as possible going into the reverse leg.
Prediction: Wolves 3-0 Espanyol