Girona v Levante – Estadi Montilivi at 12:00 Live at Sky Sports
With Easter approaching, a fascinating fight for the final European qualification place is breaking out in La Liga. Seventh-placed is expected to seal a spot in continental football next term and the current holders are top-flight debutants Girona.
The Blanquivermell arrived in Spain’s summit with a clear mandate: survival. However, Pablo Machín’s men have performed with aplomb across the campaign to deservedly sit in pole position for a seventh-placed finish, a remarkable feat considering the Catalans are in the bottom-four for operating budget, TV income, expenditure and average attendance.
It’s an achievement built on superb coaching. Machin – the assistant boss from 2011 – took over the team in 2014 and began implementing his preferred 3-5-2 formation with wing-backs. Few Spanish clubs operate a similar system and Girona’s performances have bamboozled many opponents during Machin’s reign.
Girona’s excellent home performances
His exploits with Girona have attracted interest from elsewhere but for now, the Blanquivermell are focussed on completing the season as high up the standings as is possible. Following a timely international break, the Catalans will be keen to return to winning ways at their Montilivi base.
The hosts have W8-D2-L4 on home soil since promotion – exclude the top-six and that record reads W7-D1-L1 with all seven triumphs arriving alongside clean sheets at Montilivi. Real Madrid have been beaten here, Atletico Madrid held and Barcelona was given a serious examination too; this team is capable.
Girona is currently enjoying a five-match winning streak as hosts – shutting out their opposition on each occasion – and have lost once in front of their home supporters since October. The data backs up their credentials too so backing the Blanquivermell to cover a -0.75 Asian Handicap appeals at 1.82 on Saturday.
Levante likely to come unstuck
Levante is the visitor this weekend and the Frogs arrive in buoyant mood. A 15-game winless run came to a close in Paco Lopez’s first fixture in charge of the club and the relegation battlers followed it up with a 2-1 victory over Eibar.
On the surface, those results will provide a much-needed confidence boost in the camp but Levante was second-best in both encounters, comfortably losing the Expected Goals count.
Across the campaign, the visitors’ data puts them as La Liga’s second-worst side and their W1-D4-L6 return at teams above them in the table suggests they’ll come unstuck here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Girona -0.75 at 1.830