Real Betis vs Espanyol preview - Pocchetino looking up



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Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 by PA

Real Betis vs Espanyol preview - Pocchetino looking up

Espanyol coach Mauricio Pocchetino is feeling more optimistic about his side's chances of Champions League qualification as they prepare to travel to face relegation-threatened Real Betis.

Monday's 3-1 victory over Racing Santander backed up a 5-1 win over Rayo Vallecano as Pocchetino's side finally put an end to a miserable run of form.

Prior to those wins Espanyol had dropped to 11th having gone five games without a win, which included a 5-0 humbling against Primera Division leaders Real Madrid.

But back-to-back wins have seen them clamber back up to seventh, just two points off fourth-placed Levante.

And Pocchetino is confident his team is back on track, but expects a difficult test as Betis battle to keep themselves clear of the drop zone.

He told Marca: "After these wins we can look to the future with much more immediate optimism.

"The players have done fabulously well and I am very pleased as we played a very good game.

"But the Betis team is strong and we only beat them 1-0 at home earlier this season.

"Our opposition find themselves in a difficult situation and that can cause us problems."

Pocchetino will have to make do without striker Sergio Garcia, who picked up a hamstring injury against Racing, although midfielder Joan Verdu should be fit after a muscle problem.

Midfielder Cristian Gomez is also likely to be given another chance to impress after good recent performances in the middle of the park, and Pocchetino has been pleased to see the 22-year-old make the most of his opportunity.

"Being selected in the side is not a gift, the players on the field need to show their merits instead of waiting for a chance," he said.

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