Granada v Espanyol – Los Carmenes at 19:30 live on Sky Sports 5
Granada will be hoping to pick up a third victory in four La Liga games since Jose Gonzalez took charge when Espanyol head to Andalucia on Monday night.
El Grana kept clean sheets in both victories against Sporting Gijon (2-0) and Deportivo La Coruna (1-0) before falling to a 2-0 defeat to Real Betis last time out and know a return to winning ways will lift the club out of the drop zone for the first time since January.
Gonzalez, who’s only previous head coaching role in the Spanish top-flight ended after only an eight-month stint in charge of Albacete, was a surprise choice to replace the sacked Jose Ramon Sandoval at the end of February. But the early signs around Los Carmenes are positive and there’s renewed hope that survival can be achieved.
For the first time since January 2014, Granada have scored in five successive fixtures as hosts and across Gonzalez’s first three matches, the Nazaríes have yet to lose the shots-on-target count, reducing their opponents to just six (15-6 in Granada’s favour in total).
It’s been a welcome and overdue positive streak for the Andalusians who dismissed Sandoval after a wretched return of eight defeats in nine left the club teetering on the brink towards the bottom of La Liga.
Young and talented striker Adalberto Peñaranda is missing here through suspension but David Barral is a capable replacement and there’s an expectation that livewire Isaac Success will shake off a toe problem to feature in the revived hosts XI.
And whilst Granada’s record at Los Carmenes is far from fearsome, it’s worth noting their W4-D2-L7 efforts have mainly come against the top-half of the table. The hosts have welcomed just two of the bottom-six and beaten both (Getafe and Sporting Gijon). Include last season’s record at home and the Nazaríes have W8-D12-L12.
It may require a leap of faith from punters to follow but I reckon the 2.20 available on Granada overcoming the -0.50 Asian Handicap here is a bet worth investing in.
Espanyol head south on the back of their own bounce in form; Constantin Galca’s charges have taken nine points from their past four matches – as many as they’d picked up in their previous 13 outings. However, two of those games came at their Barcelona base and the Parakeets are beginning to pick up a reputation as terrible travellers.
If we look at the visitors’ record on the road since the start of last season, Espanyol have W8-D4-L21. This term alone, the Parakeets have conceded on average 2.30 goals-per-game as guests and are yet to keep a clean sheet away from home.
Galca’s group have been beaten in nine of their last 10 on their travels, leaked the opening goal in eight of those contests and are without suspended central midfielders Victor Sanchez and Pape Diop as well as talisman striker Felipe Caicedo for this encounter.
Espanyol could and should have been out of sight last Monday night against injury-hit Rayo Vallecano but wayward finishing almost cost the club maximum points and similar wastefulness could prove costly here.
With that in mind, I’m willing to wager Granada will bounce back to winning ways.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Granada -0.5 at 2.20
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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