x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Espanyol’s slippery slide downwards continues

Despite being well funded and followed, the Primera Liga club were unable to retain their core players and as a result have fallen considerably down the table this year.

Espanyol players, in blue and white, have only picked up one point in five Primera Liga games. Paco Puentes / EPA
Espanyol players, in blue and white, have only picked up one point in five Primera Liga games. Paco Puentes / EPA

Espanyol have picked up just one point in five league games and only Athletic Bilbao have a worse defensive record to sum up how disappointing their start to the Primera Liga campaign has been.

If Espanyol lose to in-form Atletico Madrid on Sunday then it will be their worst ever start to the league season.

Their problems are not confined to this term. Espanyol have the worst top-flight record in 2012 and have won just three of 28 games since the start of February.

What makes it more bizarre is that they were fourth in the league at the end of January, before sliding to a 14th-place finish.

A selling club, Espanyol lost several of last season's regulars such as Jordi Amat and Romaric, and they failed to renew the loan deal with the effective Vladimir Weiss from Manchester City. Replacements included experienced but ageing internationals such as the World Cup winner Joan Capdevila, 34, and Portugal's Simao, 32.

Espanyol are a big club, their average crowds of 25,000 made them Spain's eighth-best supported last season.

Their playing budget is comfortably mid-table, too, and their new stadium one of Spain's best, yet despite having an excellent youth system they keep having to sell to balance the books.

They have kept faith in their coach Mauricio Pochettino, who has been in charge for four years, yet they look well short of this season's objective of qualifying for a European football next term.

sports@thenational.ae

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