Espanyol captain Javi Lopez concedes his side will have to “play a perfect match” if they are to cause an upset away at Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
The visitors head to the Vicente Calderon in the Spanish capital looking for a third away win in La Liga this season.
However, they have their work cut out against opponents who are currently on a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
A brace from Antoine Griezmann was enough in midweek to secure Atletico a 2-0 win over Galatasaray, a result that sealed Diego Simeone’s side a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Atletico have yet to concede a goal in the month of November, yet Lopez is hopeful Espanyol can somehow find a way to pick up at least a point on their travels.
“To win at the Vicente Calderon we must play a perfect match,” he told the club’s official website.
“We know that it’s a very strong team in their ground, one of the teams that has receives fewer goals in Europe and we know how intense the play.
“However, if we are able to keep our level and do what the manager asks for, we can come back with something positive.”
Espanyol won 2-0 at Malaga in their last outing thanks to a pair of first-half goals from Hernan Perez.
Sergio Gonzalez’s men currently sit in 10th place in the table, though the 23 goals they have conceded means they have the joint-worst defensive record in La Liga, along with lowly Levante.
Atletico are hardly a team you want to be facing when you have problems stopping the opposition scoring. While they have not been prolific in front of goal, Atletico have only leaked six goals so far in La Liga this season.
A solitary strike from Koke last weekend in just the seventh minute was enough to see off Real Betis and lift them above city rivals Real Madrid into second place in the standings.
Another clean sheet followed in midweek in Europe, with Simeone delighted to have secured a place in the knockout stages with a game to spare.
“We’ve been working hard these four-and-a-half years. We have always had the possibility to qualify one or two matches before the end of the stage. That speaks very well of the players,” he said.
“I’m happy for the club, because it is a step forward that makes us happy for the players and the fans.”
Key Opta stats:
– Atletico have lost just one of their last seven league games against Espanyol under Diego Simeone (W5 D1).
– Only Barcelona (12 games) have scored in more La Liga games this season than Atletico (11).
– Espanyol have lost their last two away games in La Liga and they have not lost three or more in a row since December 2014 (4).
– Antoine Griezmann has scored half of Atletico Madrid’s goals in La Liga this season at Calderon (four of eight).
– Hernan Perez has scored the last three Espanyol goals in La Liga and he has netted his first brace in the top-flight in his last appearance against Malaga.