MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) previews the Monday night La Liga offering.
Sporting Gijon v Getafe | Monday 19.30 | Sky Sports 3
Sporting Gijon have made a positive impression following promotion this season. With a rock solid defence, the side from Asturias lost just twice in the Segunda last season as centre-back pairing Bernardo Espinosa and Luis Hernandez excelled.
With restrictions on their transfer business, head coach Abelardo Fernandez has had to rely on the same young faces – they had an average squad age of 23 last term – to keep the side afloat in the top tier and there was early signs of promise from the Los Rojiblancos.
Sporting held Real Madrid to a richly deserved goalless draw in their opener before recording the same scoreline away to Real Sociedad. Valencia sneaked a last-gasp winner in their third outing but Abelardo’s men had spurned many chances in that contest and bounced back with a splendid 3-2 success at Deportivo.
However, the following 12 matches have returned just 10 points (W3-D1-L8) as the Asturians keep their heads just above the relegation water. They’ll want to improve their results at El Molinon having only managed W2-D2-L3 despite hosting six sides in 10th and below.
Saying that, the stats suggest Sporting are probably underachieving ever so slightly when welcoming La Liga opposition.
Only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla are averaging more shots-on-target at home than Los Rojiblancos (5.9 per-game) and no side has fired in a higher percentage of shots from inside the box as hosts than Gijon’s 65% (27 of their 41 shots have come from inside the penalty area).
There’s a trail of thought that suggests, 85% of goals scored occur from attempts inside the 18-yard box so Abelardo’s troops do at least look to be on the right lines. Young Croatian Alen Halilovic has been a revelation and his side have managed to score in four of their six fixtures at El Molinon since that opener against Real.
The bad news is, Sporting have kept just one shutout in six attempts on home soil and a solitary clean sheet in their last 14 outings. Bernardo and Luis Hernandez do return from suspension here but with five defeats in six, the case to leave the hosts alone is reasonable.
Opponents Getafe are terrible travellers – they’ve been behind at half-time in nine of their last 12 road trips and lost nine of those 12 by at least a two-goal margin. The capital club have leaked 14 goals in their last four away and W0-D2-L6 on their travels this term.
But seven of their eight previous hosts are top-half teams and the Deep Blues did manage to notch themselves in each of their last three at Valencia, Real Madrid and Eibar – that deserves credit.
Slowly, I can see things changing at Getafe. I’m an admirer of their coach Fran Escriba – he worked miracles at Elche last season – and they’re generally a well-organised group. They performed very well in Valencia and with this being the first trip to a team below them in the standings, I’d expect the visitors to take a positive approach.
The Deep Blues have ground out consecutive La Liga draws with Deportivo, Valencia and Real Sociedad and they’ve recovered well from a slow start that saw them lose four of their opening five. A few of their defeats have flattered their opponents and W4-D5-L5 since early September (losses v Atletico, Sevilla, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Eibar) commands respect.
Getafe’s performance data is poor on their travels but that’s due to the strength of hosts they’ve come up against.
Of course, their long-term away trends are dreadful but they’re well capable of scoring on Monday night – the Deep Blues have netted in 15/27 (55%) away days since the start of last season whilst Betis, Granada and Levante have all struck at least twice at El Molinon this term.
With that in mind, I’ll have a wee play on Both Teams To Score at 8/7 with 888 Sport.
Sporting Gijon v Getafe – Both Teams To Score (8/7 888 Sport)
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