Las Palmas v Villarreal – Gran Canaria at 19:45 live on Sky Sports
If you’ve been looking for entertainment in March, you wouldn’t have gone too far wrong by tuning into Las Palmas’ three fixtures.
The Yellows have taken four points from games against Real Madrid (3-3), Osasuna (5-2) and Espanyol (3-4) to stay rooted in the bottom-half but 20 goals across just over four-and-a-half hours action has kept us all hooked.
Last Friday night Quique Setien’s men were on the wrong end of a seven-goal thriller at Espanyol in what was an even contest in Barcelona. The Canary Islanders head coach was naturally frustrated by the outcome, as he was when his troops shucked away a 3-1 advantage against 10 men Madrid a fortnight ago.
Las Palmas malaise
Las Palmas were missing Roque Mesa and Marko Livaja through suspension last time out – both will return here – but their current results malaise extends right back to late summer and early autumn.
Friday’s hosts came steaming out of the blocks (W3-D3-L2) and even led La Liga during it’s early 2016/17 days but since mid-September the Yellows have collected just five wins from 23 league outings.
At the back, Setien’s side have shutout only four opposition outfits all season and those defensive struggles have certainly contributed to their downturn – even their home encounter with rock-bottom Osasuna threatened to be thrown off track due to their inability to keep things tight at the back.
Las Palmas do boast an enviable return at their Estadio de Gran Canaria base, particularly under Setien, but Real Sociedad and Sevilla departed with 1-0 victories here in two of the past three matches and the Islanders have been beaten in each of their last four against top-half teams that weren’t Madrid or Barcelona.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, Jese and Tana make-up a wonderfully exciting attacking trio but in four games against the top-half in Gran Canaria, Las Palmas have scored no more than one goal. And here they’re taking on La Liga’s best defence.
Villarreal arrive in fifth, squeezed about Sociedad on goal difference and four points adrift of fourth spot and the elusive Champions League qualification places. However, the Yellow Submarine pitch up in fine form.
Fran Escriba’s charges have churned out three wins on the spin, four victories from five and have lost just once in six outings across all competitions. Their sole defeat in that sample coming in a three-goal collapse against Real Madrid.
At the back Villarreal have shutout five of their last seven hosts in La Liga, winning three of those fixtures and shipping just two goals. The Yellow Submarine’s record at the bottom-half reads W4-D3-L0 and their ability defensively always gives them a solid chance of picking up maximum points.
Going forward Denis Cheryshev is sidelined until April but Escriba can still call upon Cedric Bakambu, Roberto Soldado and Nicola Sansone whilst Roberto Soriano, Jonathan Dos Santos and Samu Castillejo are worth candidates to lead the attacking charge from the exciting flanks.
The betting angles
Villarreal have the accumulative won shots on-target count 27-18 from tricky recent trips to Celta, Osasuna, Sociedad, Sevilla, Deportivo and Sporting Gijon – Depor the only side in that bunch to fire in more on-target efforts – and they appear a little underrated here at 2.02 off a scratch 0 Asian Handicap start.
Elsewhere, I’m more than happy to have a play on Under 2.5 Goals at 1.97. Recent Las Palmas matches suggest a goal-glut but Villarreal are rarely involved in shootouts and actually, the hosts tend to be involved in low-scoring ties when playing in front of their home supporters.
This season the pair have seen Under 2.5 Goals pay-out in 18/27 (67%) collective home/away La Liga fixtures – a percentage success rate that would imply betting odds of just 1.49, suggesting we’ve unearthed a value call.
Asian Handicap Recommedation: Villarreal 0 at 2.02 and Under 2.5 Goals at 1.97
Prices correct at time of writing.