MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at Monday night’s La Liga offering as Eibar prepare to host Granada.
Eibar v Granada | Monday 19.30 | Sky Sports 2
At the midway point of their debut La Liga season in 2014/15, Eibar sat eighth with 27 points (W7-D6-L6). From that point on, the Basque minnows collected just eight more points (W2-D2-L15) and sunk like a stone. On the final day of the season, relegation was confirmed.
However, Elche – who finished 13th – were unable to repay their debt nor their players and a ruling by the governing body led to their demotion from the Spanish top-flight and little Eibar were the team to profit.
Armeros were reinstated to La Liga and appointed the experienced Jose Luis Mendilibar as their next leader. And boy, have they not looked back…
Coming into Matchday 20 (admittedly, the same stage when they dramatically lost form last season), Eibar were sat sixth and in the European qualification positions. If few foresaw their surge last time out, absolutely nobody expected a repeat this term.
Should Armeros collect maximum points against lowly Granada on Monday night, they’ll have broken a new club record for the most wins on the spin in Spain’s top-flight (4) as well as on home soil (3). And at 4/5 (William Hill) they have to be worth a few quid.
Mendilibar’s men have W8-D6-L5 in 2015/16 and three of those defeats came against the big-three. In fact, table-topping Atletico Madrid and neighbours Real are the only teams to leave Ipurua with a victory. Take out those two fixtures and the hosts have W5-D3-L0 when welcoming league opposition including four triumphs in their most recent six.
Want more? Only the top-three and Celta Vigo are averaging more goals-per-game than Eibar’s 1.42. Defensively only the top-three, Villarreal and Deportivo are conceding fewer goals-per-game than the Basques’ 1.05.
If we look at the performance data, Eibar aren’t exactly tearing down the houses or getting bums off seats but they’re mighty effective at what they do. For example, their 44% average possession figure is the second lowest in the league and only Depor are playing more long balls – no divisional rival has fewer short passes.
The hosts have scored 10 goals from set-piece situations, penalties or own goals, eight of which arrived in front of their home supporters – that’s a fairly hefty 61% of their output. But they’re still pulling up a few decent trends when viewing the shot data.
The minnows enjoy 59% of the total shots-on-target at Ipurua and are taking 7.68 efforts from inside the penalty box compared to facing just 5.60 per-game. My ratings make them likely to score around 1.50 goals-per-game, conceding 1.00 and it’s true too that centre-half Aleksandar Pantic will be suspended here.
So lets have a look at Granada. Last season the Andalusians stayed up by the skin of their teeth, on goal difference ahead of Eibar. Jose Ramon Sandoval's side arrive on the back of four defeats in five in all competitions and with Ruben Rochina banned.
Similar to 2014/15, El Grana’s biggest flaws are at the back and keeping the goals out on the road. The travellers leaked a whopping 47 goals on their travels last term – 73% of their total goals against – and racked up an emabrrassing-31 goal difference when playing away.
Granada have now W1-D3-L5 in their last nine as guests and conceded at least four goals in each of their previous three away from the comfort of their home. Indeed, they’re yet to keep their sheets clean on the road and have shipped at least two goals in five of their past eight at La Liga opposition.
But there are positives for the Andalusians. Seven clubs post a lower shots-on-target ratio than their 41% when playing away and they do tend to get on the scoresheet. Since the start of last season, Granada have notched in 16/19 matches at sides outside the top-eight
This term, El Grana have already netted nine goals from open play when outside their Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes home and 18-year-old Venezuelan forward Adalberto Peearanda’s grabbed four of their last five goals in La Liga football – he looks a real threat.
The visitors are averaging five shots inside the penalty box away from home (conceding over 8.50 per-game) and so there’s enough evidence to suggest, Granada can get on the scoresheet here. But ultimately, their dreadful defence is likely to prove their undoing.
With that in mind, I’ll take Both Teams To Score at an attractive 6/5 (BetVictor) and bypass the Match Odds by taking Eibar to win and BTTS at a tasty 15/4 thanks to Bwin for interest.
Eibar v Granada – Both Teams To Score (6/5 BetVictor)
Eibar v Granada – Eibar to win and Both Teams To Score (15/4 Bwin)
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