Hopefully Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t set the team bus’ GPS this Tuesday as the club travel for a vital Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg at minnows Mirandes.
Pochettino didn’t appear to have done much homework on the fifth-placed Primera Division side’s opponents when he suggested that it would be a difficult away trip due to the “reduced size of the pitch”. Mirandes’s Estadio Anduva is exactly the same length as Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat and one metre wider.
For the record (and in case Espanyol encounter this when googling directions), the quarter-finalists play in the small town of Miranda de Ebro, halfway between Burgos and Bilbao.
More importantly for football betting fans, Mirandes are proudly sitting on top of their division of the Spanish third tier. And with two Primera Division sides (Racing Santander and Villarreal) already claimed as Copa del Rey scalps, they are having their greatest ever season in 83 years as a club.
Mirandes are 37/20 for a win on Tuesday and 39/20 to complete the fairytale by progressing to the next round. They lost the first leg 3-2 last week in heart-wrenching fashion, leading 2-0 until the 85th minute.
At least their two goals will see Mirandes progress on away goals with a 1-0 or 2-1 win on Tuesday, priced at 15/2 and 9/1 respectively.
These outcomes look decent value outside bets when you consider that Mirandes’ mean defence has conceded just eight goals in 21 matches this season, while Espanyol are the lowest-scoring side in the Primera Division’s top half.
The formbook dashes hope of a fairytale ending, though. With just one defeat in their last nine matches, Espanyol are in decent nick and odds of 7/5 on an away victory are very tempting.
Mirandes may be enjoying the season of their lives, but with four wins from their last ten matches their form has taken a slight turn for the worse since the cold winter kicked in.
It’s true that while the Copa del Rey produces more shocks than the FA Cup might, once teams get to the quarter-final stage they sense glory and play accordingly.
Mirandes are the last team from the lower divisions left in the competitions and might be more than happy to exit the cup this week with that honour intact.
The Copa also tends to be a high-scoring competition, with the two-leg format encouraging attacking football. That seemed to trump the fact that a plucky lower-division outfit were playing a conservative top-flight club when five goals were banged in during last week’s first leg.
Boasting the cup’s top goalscorer in Pablo Infante, it is not surprising to see the hosts as short as 7/20 to score on Tuesday night.
With both teams playing their hearts out, a draw that sees Espanyol sneaking through looks a likely result and is priced at 23/10. As the first leg finished 3-2, a 2-2 draw is a decent speculative final score bet at 27/2 and 3-3 at 80/1 could be a worth a little flutter.
Backing over 3.5 goals to be scored in the match at 13/5 is a safer bet on a match which is likely to see both teams go for the jugular in search of that semi-final place.
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