Here, the ‘Periquitos’ are expected to build on that, and also expand on a recent legacy which sees them unbeaten in five La Liga home openers to a calendar year.
Espanyol moved within striking distance of La Liga’s top-half on New Years’ Eve, with a surprise 2-1 victory at Valencia reviving the club’s hopes of a quick return to European competition. Here, the ‘Periquitos’ are expected to build on that, and also expand on a recent legacy which sees them unbeaten in five La Liga home openers to a calendar year. They’ve fared even better as pre-match favourites in league action this term. All four of those wins came on home turf, contributing to their current seven-game unbeaten run in La Liga home action, with Espanyol holding a 50 per cent first-half win rate across those six victories.
It was a damp squib for relegation-fighting Elche rather than fireworks to ring in 2022, with a 0-0 draw vs Granada last time out making it just one win in 11 league matches for the ‘Franjiverdes’. Their subsequent halfway-mark tally of 16 points is one lower than they had at the same stage of 2020/21, when they ultimately only avoided relegation via a final-day victory. To avoid another last-day dogfight, Elche should try and address their poor La Liga away record to date, with not a single point recovered from four half-time deficits registered within that dismal return. Despite that, only some slight tuning may be needed in defence, with just one of those seven losses seeing Elche fail to cover a 1 handicap.
Javi Puado netted the winner in Espanyol’s triumphant end to 2021, making four of his last eight post half-time goals decisive. In opposition, fellow Catalonia native Pere Milla has seen three of his last four strikes act as equalisers, including one vs Barcelona on Elche’s last La Liga road trip. Each of Espanyol’s last seven La Liga home wins by a single-goal margin have seen the deciding goal arrive after half-time.