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Can Espanyol really mount a Europa League challenge?

Can Espanyol really mount a Europa League challenge?

To go from the mediocre realms of mid-table to the euphoric heights of European football, Espanyol does not only need to maintain their upward trajectory in form, but they require traits they have not shown before.

With ten games remaining and a seven-match unbeaten streak already under their belt, the Parrots head to eighth-place Real Betis on Saturday in a bid to turn the dream of Europa League into a reality.

Head coach Quique Sanchez Flores has ascertained 11 points from the last 24 available, a spell which includes five draws and two wins.

The last time, the Spaniard guided this team to a similar record was last year where they went nine games without defeat.

However, if they are to be playing against the continent’s best next year, Flores is going to have to take this run one step further.

Seven of their last ten games are against opposition all placed above them including clubs currently occupying the Europa League places. Espanyol faces difficult trips to Valencia (6th), Girona (7th) and title-challenging Atletico Madrid.

And, above all, despite their accumulation of points, they have only managed to climb in standing while actually losing ground on the chasing pack.

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Cast back to the end of January and they sat 14th with 24 points, eight points from Europe, roll forward they are now 13th on 35 points, however a widening nine points behind sixth.

While the additions made in January have offered improvement, Espanyol needs to show more of what they produced on Sunday in the 2-1 comeback win over Real Sociedad.

Sunday was only the second time in the league where Flores has seen his side come from behind to take all three points.

The last time coming against Saturday’s opponents Betis during March last year, where two goals from Javi Fuego and Jose Antonio Reyes in the dying minutes overturned the result.

If Flores is to lead the march to the top-half of the table, the former Watford coach is going to have to break all records starting with an all-important win over Quique Setien’s Betis.