MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP has given us plenty of joy this season. His latest arrives from Spain.
Valencia v Espanyol | Sunday 11:00
Mrs Brown’s Boys, Miranda and Michael McIntyre’s Big Show – all terrible comedies. Well we can add Valencia at odds-on quotes to that list this weekend.
This is a Valencia side that couldn’t see out a game against no-hopers Osasuna on Monday night, drawing 3-3 and conceding a crushing stoppage-time equaliser.
This is a Valencia that sit one place above the relegation drop zone, one point above the bottom-three in La Liga with only three wins to their name all season.
This is a Valencia that are without either first-choice centre-back in Ezequiel Garay and Aymen Abdennour and a defence that’s not kept a clean sheet in 24 games and only one in 34 outings.
This is a Valencia that’s conceded at least two goals in eight of their past 13 games and arrive without a full-time manager following Cesare Prandelli’s departure.
This is a Valencia that’s fans are so disenchanted with their club that they’ve taken to the streets outside the Mestalla to protest against Peter Lim’s ownership.
And yes, this is a Valencia that were beaten in the Copa del Rey 6-2 on aggregate by Celta Vigo this week, including a 4-1 pummelling in their first outing of 2017.
It’s quite a case but it’s important to build a picture, if you weren’t already aware, of the struggles currently entrenching Los Che. Seeing Voro’s charges at odds-on stinks and they just have to be opposed here.
Visitors Espanyol are a mighty tough outfit – the Parakeets have suffered only four defeats in 17 since Quique Sanchez Flores arrived, all of which arrived against top-half teams – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Celta.
The Barcelona-based guests have been beaten once in 11, have shipped two or more goals just twice in 15 and suffered only two losses on their travels – at Barcelona and Sevilla.
Espanyol have shutout four of their eight hosts and avoided defeat at Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad already this season.
Sanchez Flores has built a robust outfit that’s very capable of grinding out results and that’s why 39/40 (Bet365) on the Parakeets with a +0.50 start on the Asian Handicap line is too good to ignore.
Valencia v Espanyol – Espanyol +0.50 Asian Handicap (39/40 (Bet365)