An early strike could open the floodgates as Sporting Gijon host Rayo Vallecano on Friday night.
The Rayo Vallecano roadshow rolls into Asturias this weekend and punters should be bold about the game at El Molinón producing goals. Both of these two teams rank in the top six for entertainment, based on both shots taken and conceded, and given that their combined ratio amounts to just 87 per cent, there’s room for a head-to-head clash to serve up a little something extra.
Cavalier to the point of self-parody, few fixtures on the Liga calendar are more attractive for season ticket holders than a visit from Paco Jemez’s men. Since Rayo were promoted back the top tier in 2012, a staggering 266 goals have been scored in 87 away games, an average of 3.06 per game, with 184 of them (nearly 70 per cent) going the way of the home side.
This season, Rayo have shipped 47 goals - more than two per game - with 31 conceded in just 11 away games, although 15 of those arrived at the Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu. Nonethless, the Franjirrojos have been breached twice in each of their three away games since the winter break, losing 2-1 at Levante before playing out 2-2 draws with Valencia and Deportivo.
On those numbers alone, the case for over 3.5 goals at 21/10 should be pretty clear. My 16-match ratings make that particular bet an 11/8 shot. And when the disparity with the market is so vast, it’s always worth venturing a bit further in search of a bumper payout, so take some of the general 5/1 available on over 4.5 goals, which by my reckoning should be around 16/5.
It only helps that Sporting are in good spirits. Abelardo Fernandez’s men were deep in the mire three weeks ago but a 5-1 thumping of Real Sociedad has been the catalyst for a revival. A somewhat fortunate 1-0 win at Valencia followed, turning the heat up on Gary Neville, while a respectable point at home to Deportivo last weekend keeps the Rojiblancos out of the drop zone.
The pattern of the game ought to be fairly predictable, even if the outcome is anything but. Rayo will look to control possession, press high up the pitch and attack from the flanks, whereas Sporting will sit - as much as any home team can - and look to expose a high defensive line, springing rapid counter attacks with vertical balls over the top.
If the first goal comes early enough, then emotions get stoked and the floodgates could open. Encouragingly, El Molinón hasn’t witnessed a goalless first half in nine matches with 17 strikes coming before the interval in that sample. Rayo, meanwhile, have opened the scoring in each of their last four matches - on 15, 21, 8 and 3 minutes respectively.
Click here for more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system