Mark O’Haire had a clean sweep in Switzerland last weekend and is staying on the continent primarily focusing on Spain for his strongest selection.
Attacking La Liga’s Worst Defence
Celta Vigo are really struggling in Spain.
Last weekend’s embarrassing 4-1 thrashing at home to Levante has seen them slide down to 17th in the La Liga standings and only one point above the relegation zone. It was their seventh league defeat in eight, and 11th loss in their last 17 outings and was described as a “shipwreck” in the local papers.
Levante fired in 10 shots from inside the penalty area and racked up over two Expected Goals (xG) from open play.
Head coach Miguel Cardoso has somehow managed to keep his position this week despite returning fewer points from his first 12 games than the already-dismissed Tony Mohamed and his issues and concerns continue to pile up.
Celta boast the division’s worst defence – giving up 1.79 goals-per-game – and they’ve shipped at least two goals nine of their 11 away days (W2-D2-L7). And that road record looks even worse when including results in games as guests since the start of last season as the Galicians have lost 19/30 (67%) and leaked at least two goals in 21 of those encounters.
That return worsens to W1-D3-L12 away to top-half teams with the Vigo-based club shipping two goals or more in all bar three of those 16 outings. And this weekend the visitors will be without their captain and top goalscorer Iago Aspas again – Celta have won just six times this season and only once in two years without their skipper.
Alaves are only one point off the Champions League places, which in itself is a remarkable achievement. However, their transformation under Abelardo is even more eye-opening; after losing 11 of their first 13 games last season, the current boss took charge and guided the Basques to 14th and a full 18 points clear of the drop zone.
That turnaround has continued in 2018/19 and Alaves’ La Liga record under Abelardo is now 23 wins from 49 matches – a 47% win rate – as they’ve kept 17 clean sheets in that sample. Look at their record at Mendizorrotza and it’s even more enviable – W14-D5-L4 from 23 games – a 61% success rate with 10 shutouts recorded.
Alaves are available around 2.35 to win here – or 1.67 off a 0 start on the Asian Handicap, which has to be one of the best bets this weekend. They’re a team that’s impressive results aren’t matched by their performance data, although their uncompromising style makes their awkward and efficient operators against the lesser lights.
Alaves are renowned for their compact and organised defence, as they look to employ fast, direct counter-attacks at every opportunity. They’ll give Celta a really tough test and I think they’re a very decent price to enhance their record of W9-D4-L4 against clubs below them in the La Liga table.
No Need To Oppose The Serie B Leaders This Week
Serie B leaders Brescia are rated as 1.89 play on Sunday afternoon for their home meeting with Crotone and I can’t see any major reason why the Rondinelle aren’t shorter in the pre-match markets.
Eugenio Corini’s men have won eight of 11 unbeaten games at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti, scoring at least twice on eight occasions. The hosts have suffered only two defeats across the campaign and head into the weekend having W7-D4-L0 across their 11 games since the start of December, putting them top of the 10-game and 12-game form table.
Brescia boast an unblemished 100% home record when entertaining bottom-half teams this term and a look a very good thing to enhance that record to six straight wins against Serie B’s strugglers on Sunday. With Crotone sitting in the bottom three and having lost eight of their 11 away days already this season, the home win looks reasonably straightforward.
The Pitagorici – relegated from Serie A last summer – are in grave danger of back-to-back demotions and their efforts against the second-tier’s better sides is also concerning. Crotone have W0-D5-L12 when excluding the bottom-five, firing blanks in nine of those 17 contests. I’m happy to support a similar outcome here in Lombardy on Sunday.
- Alaves v Celta Vigo – Alaves +0 Asian Handicap (1.67) – 4 point win
- Alaves v Celta Vigo – Alaves to win (2.37) – 2 point win
- Brescia v Crotone – Brescia -0.50 Asian Handicap (1.89) – 3 point win
Host Ali Maxwell is joined by Nigel Seeley and Mark O’Haire to look ahead to the weekend’s Premier League action, with a side of Spanish football action.