MARK O’HAIRE’S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP heads to La Liga for Sunday’s clash between Villarreal and Las Palmas.
Villarreal v Las Palmas | Sunday 22nd October 2017, 11:00 | Sky Sports
Villarreal made six changes to team for Thursday night’s Europa League tie against Slavia Prague and found themselves two goals before half-hour mark at their El Madrigal home. Manuel Trigueros and Carlos Bacca responded before the break but the Yellow Submarine were unable to find a winner.
The 2-2 extends Villarreal’s unbeaten start under new head coach Javi Calleja to four matches across all competitions following the sacking of Fran Escriba. And Sunday morning’s hosts should be backed to enhance that record further when they return to La Liga action.
Rejuvenated Villarreal feeling good
Cedric Bakambu bagged an early brace to help the side to victory over newly-promoted Girona last week with Calleja imprinting his preferred 4-4-2 diamond formation upon the side. Promoted from the B-team, Calleja has made a positive impression on the first-team players and confidence is flowing once more.
Bruno Soriano remains a major doubt for this encounter but Rodri has deputised brilliantly and the home side have options in attack; both Nicola Sansone and Carlos Bacca are battling it out to partner Bakambu as Villarreal bid to score at least twice for the ninth La Liga clash in 11 at El Madrigal here.
The Yellow Submarine tend to be ruthless operators against the league’s lesser lights and the hosts have claimed victory in 15 of their past 21 when entertaining bottom-half teams here, winning by at least a two-goal margin in eight of their most recent 10 triumphs against La the same sample of opposition.
Las Palmas struggling to stay afloat
Las Palmas have tended to be strong operators at their Canary Islands base but the Yellows were sliced and diced when hosting Celta Vigo on Monday evening, losing 5-1. Unsurprisingly, the visitors boast the league’s worst defence with new head coach Pako Ayestaran facing a huge task to turn the team’s fortunes around.
The Gran Canarians have now been beaten in six of their eight league matches thus far, including their most recent four, continuing their dreadful return from games this calendar year (W7-D3-L20).
Where the Yellows really fall down is on their travels. Las Palmas boast a dreadful W1-D3-L18 record in away La Liga fixtures since the start of last season and have been beaten by more than a solitary goal in nine of those defeats, failing to even grab a goal in six of their last seven.
Alen Halilovic is sidelined but Loic Remy and Vitolo should at least provide a spark from the flanks in attack and so I’m happy to back Villarreal to win here alongside Over 1.5 Goals at 3/4 (Betfred).
We’ll be paid out should the hosts succeed by any scoreline other than 1-0.
Villarreal to win and Over 1.5 Goals (3/4 Betfred)