Spanish Football Tips: Real to edge Bilbao battle

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REMEMBER Terry Gibson? Well, we’ve signed him and while he won’t be kicking a football he’ll be looking into his crystal ball and bringing us his best Spanish tips every week.

The ex-Spurs, Coventry and Manchester United striker is probably best remembered for his time as part of the infamous Wimbledon Crazy Gang side of the late 80s and early 90s. Now an expert in all things La Liga he works as a pundit and co-commentator on Sky Sports’ Spanish football coverage and is a contributor to unibet.

Here are Terry’s tips for three big Saturday fixtures in La Liga.

Barcelona v Celta Vigo (Sat 12pm)

This is a game Barcelona traditionally win and the last two of these wins have been emphatic. It was a 5-0 last season and 6-1 the season before, fixtures at the Balaidos are a different matter where Celta do give them a much tougher ride.

However in the Nou Camp Barcelona have lost only two of the last 51 games against Celta and I don’t envisage it being any different in this game.

It’s six wins out of six for Barcelona at home so far in La Liga and I fully expect this to be seven from seven.

Celta have managed two wins away from home at Eibar and Las Palmas so far but I still don’t see Juan Carlos Unzue’s team troubling Barcelona in this one. Unzue is the former assistant to Luis Enrique at Barcelona and this is his first visit back at the Nou Camp with his new team.

Iago Aspas could be a threat with his pace on the break and the Celta Vigo Striker has scored seven of his team’s last 10 goals so Barca and in particular the quicker central defender Samuel Umtiti will have to be mindful of him – even though Barca have only conceded two at home so far this season. Their defence and in particular goalkeeper Ter Stegen have been a real strength this season.

The goals have certainly dried up a bit for Messi at the moment with only one in his last six La Liga games but he does have a good record against Celta at the Nou Camp having scored three in the last two. Luis Suarez likewise notched a hat-trick in last season’s corresponding fixture and I anticipate both to be on the sheet on Saturday.

Terry’s Tips

  • Correct score: Barcelona 4, Celta 0 (8-1, Unibet)
  • First scorer: Messi (19-10, Unibet)
  • Barca to score in both halves (19-50, Unibet)

 

Atletico Madrid v Sociedad (Sat 3.15pm)

A thumping win 5-0 win last time out for Atletico away at Levante and it was mightily impressive. If you didn’t see it, the game was influenced by a more attacking and dynamic approach from Simeone and it totally paid off. 

A new position for Antoine Griezmann was deployed and he responded with an absolutely brilliant performance.

Simeone adopted a new formation with Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro playing as a pair up front and Griezmann just behind them. To say he ran the show playing from deep would be an understatement. He and Gameiro both scored a brace and to be honest I haven’t enjoyed an Atletico performance like that for a long time, I’m just hoping it wasn’t a one off!

Real Sociedad are a strange team at the moment, consistency is a real issue. On their day they show real class but there are some discrepancies regarding their level of performance on a regular basis. They are the third highest scorers in the division with 27, lie in seventh spot but have conceded 24 goals which is two more than bottom Alaves.

They also went out of the Copa del Rey this week to third-tier Lleida. They were 1-0 up after playing the first leg away, proceeded to score two further goals to give them a 3-0 advantage and then conceded three in the last 35 minutes to be eliminated on the away goals rule. Astonishing!

Whichever way Simeone plays it this week I would be surprised if Atletico don’t pick up all three points. No problems regarding consistency with Simeone’s team who are now in good form and are still unbeaten in the league this season.

Despite facing Chelsea on Tuesday in the Champions League I expect a full-strength Atletico to have too much for Real Sociedad in this game.

Terry’s Tips

  • Correct score: Atletico 2, Sociedad 0 (11-2, Unibet)
  • First scorer: Gameiro to score first (21-5, Unibet)
  • Atletico to win both halves (3-1, Unibet)

 

Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid (Sat 7.45pm)

Traditionally this is a tough game for any of the title-chasing teams in La Liga. This is emphasised in the fact that Madrid have lost more than they have won away from home against Athletic Bilbao. It’s 31 wins and 38 defeats over the years for Madrid but they have won nine of the last 12 so recent times have been a lot better.

This one is a tough one to call though as both teams are not at their best this season. Athletic have not won in five in La Liga and went out of the Copa del Rey to Formentera on Wednesday evening. Formentera won 1-0 at San Mames with a 96th minute winner to beat Athletic 2-1 on aggregate.

Formentera is a small Island just off Ibiza and their home stadium where they drew 1-1 in the first leg has a capacity of 1000. The entire Island population is just over 10,000!

San Mames has a capacity of over five times the population of Formentera and its fair to say that coach Cuco Ziganda is on borrowed time. It will be interesting to see how this manifests itself regarding the performance of his team against Madrid.

Fourth-placed Madrid themselves had troubles in the Copa del Rey by going behind against third-tier Fuenlabrada at the Bernabeu. They then went 2-1 ahead only to concede a late equaliser. They did progress though with a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.

They were also the first team to concede against relegation-threatened Malaga last week in their home stadium. Malaga hadn’t scored an away goal so far this season and got two at the Bernabeu. It was only a follow up from a missed penalty by Ronaldo that earned them all three points in that game so massive improvement needed from Zidane’s team too.

Sergio Ramos was missing in that game whilst recovering from his broken nose and he will be back for this game. Not ideal I guess though to be facing Aritz Aduriz and Raul Garcia in an expected aerial battle in a protective face mask on your first game back!

Gareth Bale returned as a sub in the cup match, had an immediate impact in creating a goal for Borja Mayoral but has since suffered a minor reaction to the game with a calf issue and looks likely to miss out once again.

In this game I’m going to go for the away win, despite Madrid not winning either of their last two away games in La Liga, losing at Girona and drawing at Atletico.

Terry’s Tips

  • Correct score: Bilbao, 1 Real Madrid 2 (7-1, Unibet)
  • First scorer: Benzema to score first (17-4, Unibet)
  • Under 3.5 goals (61-100, Unibet)

 

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