MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) bagged a hat-trick of European NAP winners. His latest arrives from Spain.
Las Palmas v Osasuna | Sunday 17:30 | Sky Sports 5
It’s fair to say I was feeling a little foolish on Wednesday evening.
I’d made the case for backing Real Madrid to beat Las Palmas in the Bernabeu, keeping a clean sheet in the process. The plucky underdogs had taken two points from a possible 30 on their travels and notched two goals in nine hours of action outside of their Canary Islands home.
It took Quique Setien’s side just 10 minutes to score as the Yellows dominated the first-half in the Spanish capital despite going into the interval all-square. Las Palmas enjoyed more possession, led the shot count and created the better goalscoring opportunities.
The Gran Canaria outfit produced a terrific display and were deservedly leading 3-1 against 10 men following Gareth Bale’s sending off with just 30 minutes to play. Jonathan Viera, Tana and Roque Mesa were controlling proceedings and the Yellows began to dream about a first ever win at the Bernabeu.
However, fear took charge and Setien’s charges buckled under pressure. Real came roaring back and pinched a point in a breathless end-to-end encounter. The Las Palmas head coach admitted his side failed to deal with the occasion but quite rightfully showered praise on his courageous team.
Galvanised Las Palmas
The Islanders had turned up on the back of a four-match losing streak and with only two triumphs in 12 to their name. But the performance at the Bernabeu should galvanise the group despite the potential psychological effects inflicted on losing a two-goal lead in such circumstances during midweek.
Las Palmas now have a fantastic chance to post an overdue victory when rock-bottom Osasuna arrive on the island this weekend. The hosts have W13-D9-L6 when welcoming La Liga teams to their base under Setien and were unbeaten in 15 here before unfortunate 1-0 defeats to Real Sociedad and Sevilla.
The Yellows won the shot count 32-21 across both encounters and dominated La Real, only to be beaten by a goalkeeper howler. The home side also failed to turn their chances into goals when going down against title contenders Sevilla but there was plenty to encourage in both losses.
Impressive home record
In Gran Canaria, Las Palmas have W3-D3-L0 against teams currently in the bottom-six and if we exclude the current top-six, the home side have returned impressive W6-D4-L0 in league action here. Three of those six triumphs were achieved by a margin of two goals or more.
Las Palmas have only lost the shot count in three of their 13 home fixtures this term, are operating at a 61.29% shots on-target ratio – the fifth best return in the division at home – and have also a very healthy expected goals ration when welcoming clubs to the Estadio Gran Canaria.
Rock-bottom Los Rojillos
Osasuna arrive having seemingly waved the white flag for relegation. Los Rojillos showed initial signs of life in early January but the side from Pamplona have reverted to their wretched ways in recent weeks and now sit 10 points adrift at the foot of the Spanish top-flight.
Petar Vasiljevic is the third coach charged with turning the side’s fortunes around but a terrible defensive record – Osasuna have conceded at least three goals in six of their last seven fixtures – combined with dwindling belief and confidence levels appears to have confirmed their fate.
The visitors were thrashed 4-1 at home to Villarreal in midweek and come into this contest without a win in 17, losing 13 of those outings. On the road Los Rojillos have been beaten in six of their last seven despite travelling to four teams in the bottom-six and another reverse looms large on Sunday.
The betting angle
We can back Las Palmas to win and Over 1.5 Goals at even-money with Paddy Power; a steal considering Osasuna have been beaten by more than a one-goal margin in 12 of their 17 league losses this season, including seven of their eight defeats away from home.
Meanwhile, collectively the two teams have been involved in Over 1.5 Goals in 19/25 (76%) respective home/away fixtures as Osasuna have shipped two goals or more in all bar three of their 12 games as guests.
Las Palmas v Osasuna – Las Palmas to win and Over 1.5 Goals (1/1 Paddy Power)