THE famous European NAP returns with Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) heading to La Liga for his best bet on the continent this weekend.
Real Madrid v Las Palmas | Saturday 15.00
Cordoba gave Spanish football club owners a fantastic example of how not to run their clubs last season. Having won promotion to La Liga for the first time in 42 years, Albert Ferrer was sacked in mid-October and their season went into free-fall. Two more coaches were hired and fired and Cordoba unsurprisingly went down with a whimper.
So step forward Las Palmas. The Canary Islanders, back in the top-flight after a 13-year absence, showed the previous example hasn’t been heeded. Following a return of just one win in eight matches, the Yellows decided to axe manager Paco Hererra, the man who earned them promotion and was even rewarded with a new contract before the season started. Pathetic.
Quique Setien has been handed the reigns but the 57-year-old has no previous experience of La Liga coaching and quite frankly, the whole situation stinks. It’s fantastic to have a Canary Islands side in the top tier but unless Setien can dramatically transform a very limited squad, I hope they pay for such impatience.
It’s not Setien’s fault and to his credit, he did help Las Palmas grind out a creditable stalemate against Villarreal in his first fixture in charge. That point ended a three-match losing streak and Mubarak Wakaso and Culio return from suspension to help the Yellows as they prepare to travel to the capital.
The Yellows have fired blanks in their past three games and have garnered just a solitary point to their name from a possible 12 when on the road. Getafe ran out comfortable 4-0 winners in Las Palmas’ last trip to Madrid and although narrow losses at Atletico (1-0) and Barcelona (2-1) suggest they can put in a reasonable shift, their away blues began last term.
Even during their successful Segunda promotion campaign, Las Palmas toiled on their travels. The visitors finished their 2014/15 season with only two successes in 13 so facing fearsome Real in their own backyard certainly looks a step too far.
Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas are definitely missing for the hosts but Karim Benzema should return up top whilst James Rodriguez, Dani Carvahal and Pepe are all very close to returning for Los Blancos, who top of the table after nine matchdays (W6-D3-L0).
Real are the league’s top goal-getters and should obviously blow Las Palmas away but I prefer to focus on their excellent defensive record since Rafael Benitez arrived. Sure, Navas has been superb between the sticks and Los Blancos have benefited from poor finishing and a couple of incorrect calls but on the whole, the home side are a much more stable and balanced unit.
Benitez’s boys have conceded just three goals in those nine league games and held PSG scoreless in Paris in their most recent Champions League tie. The manner in which Real won away at Celta was incredibly impressive and I expect the home side to get the job done with ease ahead of the return match with PSG this midweek.
Real have yet to concede a goal at home in La Liga this season and can be backed at 9/10 (BetVictor) to win ‘to nil’ on Saturday afternoon. Las Palmas have failed to net in six of their nine outings since promotion.
Real Madrid v Las Palmas – Real Madrid to win ‘to nil (9/10 BetVictor)
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