MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) continues his hunt for the continent's best bet with his European NAP. Can he continue his run of five winners on the spin with a selection from La Liga on Saturday night?
Granada v Sporting Gijon | Saturday 19:45 | Sky Sports 3
Six weeks and only six weeks into his role as Granada head coach, the Nasrids board sacked Paco Jemez after the Andalusian outfit made their worst start to a season since the 1944.
El Grana picked up just two points from a possible 18 available with Paco facing the usual criticism of over-playing. Having started the season with a 1-1 draw against Villarreal it was a shame to see one of La Liga’s most entertaining coaches depart.
Results and performances haven’t really improved since. A 1-0 home reverse before the October international break to Leganes was unacceptable and Lucas Alcaraz's first game in charge last weekend saw the Nasrids smashed 7-1 by Atletico Madrid.
Isaac Cuenca released his inner Matt le Tissier to give Granada the lead at the Vicente Calderon but Granada were never going to hold on and were duly taken apart by Spain’s most impressive side in 2016/17.
The hosts have now shipped 23 goals already this season, 14 of which have arrived in their last five encounters. In six of Granada’s eight outings, their opposition have notched at least twice.
Fixing the defensive foundations may have to wait a week for El Grana as the Andalusians must get by without both Gaston Silva and Dimitri Foulquier. Gabriel Silva should therefore continue at full-back whilst Sergi Samper and Uche are expected to make up an inexperienced midfield pairing.
Back at their Los Carmenes base, Granada should be expected to trouble the scoresheet. The hosts scored in three of their four home games (W0-D1-L3) this season and their record when welcoming league visitors since the start of last season is fair (W6-D5-L8); the Nasrids notching on 17/23 (74%) occasions.
Still, it’s hard to get away from that horrid defensive record. Across that same sample, Granada have kept just 4/23 (17%) clean sheets so it’s perhaps unsurprising to see a healthy 15/23 (65%) feature Both Teams To Score winners.
That’s the angle I’m keen to explore here with 10BET offering generous 10/11 quotes on a BTTS repeat when Sporting Gijon pitch up on Saturday night.
Los Rojiblancos made a bright start to 2016/17 (W2-D1-L0) but have since suffered five successive losses to drop into the bottom-three and with centre-back Fernando Amorebieta suspended, head coach Abelardo is short on cover.
The visitors have claimed just one away victory in 19 attempts and been beaten in 14 of their 23 road trips since the start of last season. But like their unfancied hosts, Sporting have been troubling the scoresheet.
Gijon grabbed a goal in three of their last four – at Celta and Deportivo as well as at home to Valencia last weekend – and only fired blanks in three of their 10 trips to sides that finished in 10th and below last season.
The Asturians have seen seven of their eight this term break the Over 2.5 Goals barrier as they’ve leaked two goals or more in five fixtures.
Collectively this pair have kept just one clean sheet between them this term and with key backline performers absent, I’m confident the two defensively hopeless sides can produce a goal-heavy game at Los Carmenes.
Granada v Sporting Gijon – Both Teams To Score (10/11 10BET)