MX23RW : Tuesday, July 27 19:24:55| >> :60:1364:1364:
Feb 20, 2020 at 8pm UK at Molineux
Attendance: 30,435
WolvesWolverhampton Wanderers
Jota (15', 67', 81'), Neves (52')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Espanyol - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the first leg of the Europa League last-32 tie between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Espanyol.

Wolverhampton Wanderers play host to Espanyol in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday night having just won one game since the turn of the year.

Despite topping their group in this competition, Espanyol travel to Molineux sitting at the bottom of the La Liga standings.

Match preview

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo on February 14, 2020© Reuters

With the winter break having come at the right time for Wolves after an exhausting few months, Nuno Espirito Santo must now hope that his side can regain some momentum after an indifferent start to the year.

Having faced Liverpool, Leicester City and three games with Manchester United in all competitions, the level of difficulty should be taken into account when making a judgement on a run of just one triumph in nine outings.

Nevertheless, Nuno will feel that his team were capable of prevailing in several of those matches, with the onus now being placed on an attack which has generally misfired over the past six weeks.

Aside from a stunning second-half comeback at Southampton, just three goals have been netted in the other eight matches, something which must improve if the club are to stay in contention for a top-six place in the Premier League and the latter stages of Europe.

However, Wolves have shown in the past that they can quickly go from the frustrating to the sublime, and Nuno will hope that is the case when taking on a team who have improved since the appointment of Abelardo in December.

Despite their lowly league position, Espanyol have lost just twice in eight games since the arrival of the former Barcelona centre-back, which includes nine points coming from six La Liga fixtures.

Draws against Barca and Sevilla have been recorded during that period, highlighting that this represents a tough assignment for Wolves after being handed a favourable draw in the group stages.

The January additions of Raul de Tomas, Leandro Cabrera and Adri Embarba may also prove to be shrewd over the coming months, signings which should be enough to keep Espanyol on an upward trajectory.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Europa League form: LWWWDW
Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions): DLWLDD

Espanyol Europa League form: DWWWDL
Espanyol form (all competitions): WLDLWD

Team News

Adama Traore in action for Wolves on December 27, 2019© Reuters

After starting on the substitutes' bench against Leicester City, Joao Moutinho and Adama Traore are expected to return to the starting lineup.

Leander Dendoncker and Pedro Neto are likely to make way, and they may represent the only two alterations for this contest.

Matt Doherty is expected to be available after a head injury, although Daniel Podence will likely have to make do with a spot among the replacements.

With De Tomas failing to shake off an adductor issue, Jonathan Calleri or Wu Lei are expected to be named down the middle of the attack.

Fellow fresh faces Cabrera and Embarba are in line to start, with right-back Sebastien Corchia the only long-term absentee.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez, Jota

Espanyol possible starting lineup:
D.Lopez; J.Lopez, L.Lopez, Cabrera, Vila; Lozano, Sanchez; Embarba, Darder, Vargas; Calleri

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Espanyol

With both teams having shown similar form of late, this is a difficult one to call. However, the atmosphere under the lights at Molineux could prove key for Wolves, who we feel will grind out a narrow win over improving opponents.

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Conor Coady in action for Wolves on February 14, 2020
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Wednesday's key events

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· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
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