MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the best bets on offer for Monday night’s La Liga encounter between Deportivo and Las Palmas.
Deportivo La Coruna v Las Palmas | Monday 19.30 | Sky Sports 2
On Christmas Day, Deportivo were sitting sixth in La Liga having suffered just two league defeats in 17. The La Coruna-based outfit had even begun dreaming about a possible return to European competition.
Depor finished in the top-three between 1999-2004, clinching a historic league title in 2000. But the following 12 years saw the Branquiazuis slowly slide down the standings with two relegations and promotions in the past six years.
Former player Victor Sánchez saved the side from a third relegation on the final day of last season and had pushed the boundaries at the Riazor as Depor even pierced the top-five positions in a fantastic first half of the 2015/16 campaign.
Fast forward to Monday night and the Galicians will drop to 13th should Las Palmas pitch up and turn the hosts over.
Since the Branquiazuis beat Eibar on 19th December, a return of W1-D8-L6 has seen Victor Sánchez’s side skid down the La Liga table as they’ve failed to record a clean sheet in 14 fixtures – their worst run in the top-flight since 1957.
The Galicians overcame Levante in their last outing at Riazor but they’re still yet to claim back-to-back home wins this term and only Eibar (8) and Getafe (5) have collected fewer points than Depor (10) in the second half of the season.
Top-six dreams have vanished and the Branquiazuis were left disappointed having been unable to hold onto a 1-0 lead against bitter rivals Celta in last weekend’s derby. Nolito’s curler denied Depor as they were held to a draw for the 16th occasion in 31 La Liga matches in 2015/16.
Returning to Riazor, La Coruna have landed just W4-D8-L3 when hosting league action and their inability to defend set-piece situations is starting to get a little ridiculous – a huge 18 of their 44 (41%) goals conceded have set-plays, the highest rate of any top-flight team.
Having finally been able to field close to a full-strength XI, Victor Sánchez again has to deal with unavailable defensive players. Both Luisino and Alejandro Arribas are suspended, meaning Fernando Navarro will continue at left-back with Alberto Lopo set to partner Sidnei at centre-back.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper German Lux is also absent, meaning Manu will deputise.
For Las Palmas, safety has almost been assured thanks to a fifth win in six. A superb second-half showing against Valencia hoisted the Canary Islanders eight points clear of the danger zone and Quique Setien's charges are chasing a fourth consecutive road success here.
Real Madrid are the only side to stop the Yellows in that six-game streak as they’ve recorded four clean sheets, churning out 1-0 victories at Eibar, Villarreal and Real Sociedad – not bad for a club in which every away game is a 4,000‑kilometre round trip.
The results had been coming. Setién’s side gave Barcelona a real run for their money in the match preceding their winning streak and the organised, well-positioned side are decent in possession and also more unified at the back
. Since Setién pitched up, Las Palmas have collected 31 points from 23 games and the Yellows are now one of Spain’s most attractive teams to follow. Rarely do they lump it forward and their 4-1-4-1 formation gives the team greater stability with and without the ball.
Jonathan Viera is rightly receiving the plaudits for a number of impressive performances – he now has seven goals and seven assists for the campaign – and although forward Willian Jose is suspended, Sergio Araujo is an able replacement and the Setién’s side still have Momo, Nabil El Zhar and Viera providing threats from deep.
Las Palmas have proven their worth in recent weeks and I’d be much happier siding with the Canary Islanders. There’s been cash for the travellers all weekend but even at 7/9 (BetVictor) backing the Yellows with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start is the way to go – we’ll be paid out should the away side avoid defeat.
Deportivo La Coruna v Las Palmas – Las Palmas +0.50 Asian Handicap (7/9 BetVictor)
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