MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) talks us through his favourite Monday night selection in La Liga’s meeting between Espanyol and Real Sociedad.
Espanyol v Real Sociedad | Monday 19.30 | Sky Sports 2
Espanyol were hammered 6-0 by rampant Real Madrid last weekend, putting in a lifeless, soulless and rudderless performance but the Parakeets can arrest a six-match winless slide (W0-D2-L4) by avoiding defeat on Monday night.
At their Cornella-El Prat base, the hosts tend to be a tough side to beat. Table-topping Barcelona were held to a deserved 0-0 draw by their city rivals at the turn of 2016 whilst Villarreal were fortunate to escape with a 2-2 draw in their most recent home outing here.
Espanyol haven’t lost in front of their home supporters since the first weekend in October (W2-D4-L0) and although the performance data suggests they’re overachieving as hosts, the stats are massively skewed by the 6-0 Real dished out back in September.
Take out those six goals against and the Parakeets have shipped just six in nine on home soil and Constantin Galca can welcome back five key players that were missing for their trip to the Bernebeu last weekend.
Top goalscorer Felipe Caicedo and Victor Sanchez are both still absent but Gerard Moreno, Victor Alvarez, Hernan Perez, Burgui and Marco Asensio are all back in the fold to bolster the Espanyol ranks.
With that in mind, the hosts look overpriced at 1.75 with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start at home. With this selection, we’ll make money if the hosts avoid defeat with a full pay-out delivered should Espanyol win and half of that potential profit paid out if the game ends in a draw.
Real Sociedad have scored in each of their six league games (W2-D2-L2) for the first time since May 2014 but arrive with plenty of injury problems including hitman Imanol Agirretxe.
Agirretxe’s responsible for 12 of La Real’s 26 goals and so with W0-D2-L4 and 17 goals against in their last six away trips and victories only against Granada and Levante on the road, it’s not hard to find reasons to oppose the Basques.
Exclude away days at the big-two and Sociedad have only taken nine points from a possible 27 against teams in ninth and below. And their previous game as guests ended in a total embarrassment – Sporting Gijon walloping Eusebio Sacristán’s team 5-1.
Sociedad’s sorry road record is nothing new, mind. Looking at results since the start of last season, La Real have managed just W4-D11-L15 as La Liga visitors, keeping only five clean sheets – a trend that goes all the way back to 2010.
I’ve looked at the Basque clubs’ record on their travels since 2010/11 to the present day and they’ve been beaten in 54/106 (51%) of matches, managing just 23/106 (22%) triumphs – that’s despite only once finishing below 15th in that sample and as high as fourth and seventh.
The stats say it’ll be tight – 13 of Espanyol last 17 as hosts have featured fewer than three goals and it’s been a similar tale in 11 of La Real’s previous 19 away – but with the guests leaking at least twice in five of their last six on the road, simply opposing them in the Asian Handicap market looks the best option.
Espanyol v Real Sociedad – Espanyol +0.25 Asian Handicap (7/10 BetVictor)
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