Espanyol v Bayer Leverkeusen Div 2 play-off Final

38 league games, 1 play off semi-final and it all comes down to one match, the Division 2 play off final.
Espanyol will face off against German opposition again as they face a Bayer Leverkeusen side who clearly sport a squad rating advantage.

Leverkeusen go into the game without Bennacer, Andersen and Christensen who are either injured or suspended. In normal circumstances this would be a big loss to any team. However the german side sport one of the better squads to cope with absentees and are likely to partner Lovren 89 and Romo 87 at centre back which is still greater than the two centre backs in D’ambrosio 87 and Boscagli 87 who will be at the heart of the Espanyol defence. Elsewhere the Germans have 90 plus rated players across the pitch, giving them the advantage on paper.

Espanyol have continued to plan long term and have recently lost Parejo 92, Locatelli 91 Ocampos 90 and Senesi 88 who have been mainstays in the clubs run to finish 4th. All have moved onto pastures new.

Espanyol also face a number of fitness issues as their pre-planned substitutions in the semi final, for some reason did not occur, meaning their best 11 played 90 minutes.

In Ronaldo, Muller and Vardy the spanish side certainly have match winners, but all three are not fully fit. Midfield is also a big problem, Smith-Rowe is almost certainly out of contention from starting, whilst Otavio and Krunic are touch and go.

In stand buy is Hickey, Karlsson, Silas and Leonardo who could become unlikely options to start the game and if not could be on the pitch at some point.

Its an intriguing fixture in the sense, a promotion does not suit Espanyol at this stage of their build, its probably two seasons too soon, but is testament to the competitive nature of the Manager.

“We are relaxed about the game as its more than we expected this season and whichever way it goes we wont be disappointed. Division 1 right now would be a massive struggle for this squad of players. Our planning has always been around being in division 2 next season, and although we will try our best to win the game, we are realistic in terms of where we are right now as a squad. Its the final game for our veterans Muller, Vardy and Ronaldo before they exit the club, and maybe they have that one last gift for the club within them to upset the odds on the night. The opposition have had the luxary of adding another 90 player who is fully fit to their line up in the last 24 hours.

We have been hit with a few blows in the transfer market the last 24 hours with Malaga’s Manager resigning which has put our pre-agreed transfers at risk. This will have a knock on affect if one of the managers we have other deals agreed with takes that role. We are having to quickly do the maths and re-allign targets as we sold players on the back of those deals and cannot exactly turn the time back.

Its all a bit of a mess right now, and it certainly will change our model in terms of pre-agreed deals which cannot be partially completed at the time.

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