Las Palmas v Sporting Gijon - Saturday 17:15, Sky Sports Xtra
The Asturians fired their fifth blank in six matches against the Galicians and looked every inch a team that has run out of ideas and the necessary belief to haul themselves out of trouble. The exception to their barren run, bizarrely, was a 12-minute final flourish against Atletico Madrid when they came from behind to shock Europe’s meanest defence.
However, that result came just four days after the Colchoneros had gone to extra time and penalties with PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, so it wasn’t totally inexplicable. Even allowing for that triumph, Abelardo’s men have averaged just one shot on target every 49 minutes since the beginning of March, so there’s value in the 9/4 available on Las Palmas to win to nil.
Less than two months ago, Las Palmas were marooned in the drop zone three points adrift of Sporting but a blistering run of six wins in seven matches has propelled them into the top half and the islanders are now setting their sights on leapfrogging Malaga and Real Sociedad in eighth and ninth as a first season back in the top flight for 14 years goes from strength to strength.
Eibar v Real Sociedad - Saturday 19:30, Sky Sports 3
Juan Luis Mendilibar’s men have suffered defeat in nine of their last 12 league outings but La Real were the first opposition they played - and beat - in their maiden campaign as a Primera club last term. That should rekindle a few fond memories and provide a timely reminder of the bigger picture, which means pride in a comfortable mid-table position.
For the visitors, there’s a danger it goes the other way. In six seasons back at the top level, they’ve beaten Barca at home five times and always failed to win the next game, losing three. Europe is virtually out of the question now, so a sense of anti-climax could ensue in which they struggle to match the intensity of the hosts at this humble 6,000-capacity venue.
Either way, my 16-match ratings make the home win a 5/4 shot and there’s also scope for backing Eibar to clear the -1 handicap at 5/1. If the Armeros edge ahead and La Real open up in pursuit of an equaliser, it won’t be lost on anyone inside the ground that victory by two clear goals would take the minnows above their illustrious visitors on the head to head.