Eibar v Alaves – Ipurua Municipal Stadium at 11:00 live at Eleven Sports

Alaves underwent a turbulent 2017/18. Having lost 11 of their first 13 fixtures and going through three head coaches, the Vitoria club seemed destined for a return to Segunda. However, the appointment of Abelardo Fernandez dramatically turned El Glorioso’s fortunes around.

Abelardo guided Alaves to four wins from his first six games and sustained that improved form until the campaign closed with the club sitting pretty in 14th, a comfy 18 points clear of the relegation zone as they secured safety for the second successive season following their return to La Liga.

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The turnaround was built largely from the back as Alaves kept regular clean sheets and began to perfect a highly efficient counter-attacking unit. With leading attacking light Munir El Haddadi returning to Barcelona in the summer, many expected the Vitoria club to remain entrenched in the bottom-half this term.

Alaves marching on

But Abelardo’s men have shown no sign of slowing down and after 10 rounds of action are up in second spot, just a solitary point off table-topping Barcelona. El Glorioso have W6-D2-L2, churning out three triumphs on their travels, as well as a famous home success over Real Madrid.

Remarkably, Abelardo has now been in charge for 35 La Liga matches and Alaves’ record under his watch now reads W19-D4-L12 – defeats have arrived against Barcelona (twice), Atletico Madrid (twice), Real Madrid, Valencia, Real Betis, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Levante and Girona – the large majority of those are Spain’s most famous clubs.

El Glorioso have been averaging 1.74 points-per-game under the current boss – that’s 66 points over the course of a full campaign and would have seen Alaves finish comfortably in fifth last season. Yet, the plucky underdogs continue to chalked up at big prices each weekend.

Alaves’ large odds are mainly due to their poor performance data. The Vitoria team are regularly amongst the bottom three for most of the major metrics, including shots in the box and Expected Goals. But that’s due to their style of ceding possession and fast, dynamic and direct counter-attacks.

Eibar can be opposed

Eibar have firmly established themselves in La Liga after their first season in the league in 2014/15, finishing 10th in 2016/17 and ninth last term, much closer to European qualification than they were to relegation.

Jose Luis Mendilibar remains in situ and continues to punch the Basque club well beyond its weight. Eibar were beaten 4-0 at Celta Vigo last weekend – a harsh scoreline – and tend to be tougher opposition at Ipura, but having recorded a sole shutout from their opening 10 games could easily be vulnerable here.

With that in mind, I’ll be backing Alaves to avoid defeat with a +0.50 start on the Asian Handicap line at 1.86 for Sunday’s early kick-off.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Alaves +0.50 at 1.860

Preview by: @MarkOHaire.

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