Tuesday 27th February 2018 (20:30)
Sky Sports (Red Button)
Girona courted controversy off the field in the past 12 months due to their ownership. Supposedly in the hand of a French TV company, backed by a Catalan media and sports representation company Mediabase, with strong ties to Manchester City and Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere, confusion reigned.
However, the plucky underdogs are making a name for themselves due to their on-pitch performances during their debut La Liga campaign. The city’s football team has never been in local focus with Barcelona just 99km away but the narrow streets of the old town – the setting for Game of Thrones – is beginning to feature more and more red-and-white striped shirts.
Head coach Pablo Machin saved the club from relegation in 2014 and suffered two failed attempts at promotion via the play-offs before eventually securing their spot in Spain’s top-tier last summer. And his unrelenting assurance in his preferred 3-5-2 system has worked wonders for the Blanquivermell.
Machin describes it as a “badge of identity”, perhaps precisely because it is so out of step with what everyone else was doing, and it’s proven startlingly problematic for opponents. Girona’s team feature tireless wing-backs pushed high, an asphyxiating intensity and press and a marauding midfield.
Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have all struggled against Machin’s men, the former pair even attempting to replicate Girona’s approach when things were going against them. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, well the Catalans are well accustomed to such behaviour.
Girona started the season looking to survive but they’re now within reach of European qualification. As well as being proven awkward opposition, they boast plenty of attacking punch in the final-third; Christian Stuani and Portu have led the charge with the Blanquivermell notching in 18 of their 24 outings.
Only three sides are facing fewer shots per-game than Girona and at their Montilivi home they’ve churned out four successive triumphs by an aggregate 12-0. They’re attractively-priced to enhance that record on Tuesday night but a better angle of attack might be to support goals as Celta Vigo pitch up.
The Galicians are marooned in mid-table but tend to unwaveringly stick to their own high-energy, attacking system. Juan Carlos Unzue – Luis Enrique’s former assistant manager – presides over matters and hasn’t been able to solve their age-old issues at the back.
Exclude the relegated clubs and last season Celta shipped more goals than all La Liga sides bar Las Palmas. The visitors have kept only 11 clean sheets in 62 league outings since the start of last season with goals being a regular feature of their performances.
A whopping 44 (71%) of that 62-match sample produced at least three goals with 26 (42%) crossing the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. On their travels, the Vigo-based club have provided Over 2.5 Goals profit in 24/32 (75%) with 19/32 (59%) seeing both sides score as the guests have netted in all bar seven.
With two teams built upon attacking principles, with a clear track record for goal-heavy games, Over 2.5 Goals appears too big to ignore at the 2.01 available and that’s why it’s my favourite fancy from the midweek coupon.
Over 2.5 Goals (2.01)