Espanyol coach Pablo Machin will ring the changes in the Europa League on Thursday night as his side look to their vital Liga Santander match away to Atletico Madrid next Sunday.
Saturday’s home defeat to Valencia leaves Espanyol second from bottom of the Spanish league and with a difficult away game before the international break, Machin has few options other than to rest key players when his team entertain the Bulgarian team Ludogorets on Thursday.
Espanyol won 1-0 in Bulgaria a fortnight ago to top their qualifying group with seven points from three games and another win would just about assure their passage into the next round.
Bearing that in mind the coach is likely to rest players such as Marc Roca, Bernardo Espinosa or striker Facundo Ferreyra.
Meanwhile Jonathan Calleri is still recovering from injury, which means that either Wu Lei or Victor Campuzano (who scored the winner a fortnight ago) will lead Espanyol’s attack.
However, despite the likely changes in the Espanyol squad, central defender David Lopez insisted the club didn’t see playing in Europe as an unwelcome distraction.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to play in the Europa League and it’s not a problem. I really like playing in Europe and I hope we can keep on getting through the different rounds. We have a good enough team to play in two tournaments,” said Lopez.
The defender did however, admit that the domestic competition was “most important as it is what feeds us, but it is very exciting for us to play in the Europa League and if we can win on Thursday we will take a big step towards qualifying.”
He also said that winning in Europe would help Espanyol’s domestic form. “It helps your morale to see you can win games and it would give us a boost before we face Atletico Madrid.”
Thursday also sees Sevilla look to maintain their 100 percent record in the Europa League when they travel to play F91 Dudelange from Luxembourg, while Getafe travel to Switzerland to face Basel, who beat them 1-0 in Spain a fortnight ago.