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 is Terry's tips for three key Saturday fixtures.
Alaves v Valencia (Sat 12pm)
This is a match-up between two teams who have both had a massive turnaround in form from last season. Alavés finished ninth with 55 points and were runners-up in the Copa del Rey, while Valencia finished 12th, nine points adrift of Alavés.
As things stand after nine games Valencia are in second position with an impressive haul of 21 points and are currently 18 ahead of their opponents.
Valencia have scored 21 goals in their last five games, Alavés have scored three all season!
It’s just one win for the strugglers this season and eight defeats. So far, they haven’t collected a home point, losing all four matches.
With all those stats leaning heavily in favour of Valencia, plus the scintillating new style of play adopted by a team that are brimming with confidence and goals, I have to predict that there will be only one outcome in this game.
I’m going to predict an away win, with a 3-0 scoreline.
Valencia skipper Dani Parejo is suspended for this one and I expect Carlos Soler to move across from wide right to central midfield and on loan Manchester United youngster Andreas Pereira to come into the starting line-up.
Instead of Simone Zaza opening the scoring I’m going to go for Rodrigo this week. So it’s Rodrigo, 1st goal and a 3-0 win for Valencia.
- Correct score: Alaves 0, Valencia 3 (21-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Rodrigo (21-4, Unibet)
- Valencia -1 (33-20, Unibet)
Atletico Madrid v Villarreal (Sat 5.30pm)
In case you hadn’t noticed, Atletico are one of the three teams that remain unbeaten so far in this La Liga campaign. Barcelona and Valencia are the other two.
However, with four draws from nine played so far, added to their troubles in the Champions League, it is fair to assume that it has been a rather underwhelming output from Simeone’s team.
Villarreal, under new coach Javier Calleja have drastically improved. It’s three wins out of three for the new coach, who is firmly committed to the familiar Villarreal style of play.
They have a centre forward in Cedric Bakambu who is capable of scoring goals, having notched 6 in his last three games. That certainly helps a new manager to settle in.
Simeone, on the other hand, is desperately hoping that his strikers can find similar form. Griezmann only has two so far this campaign and Kevin Gameiro got his first of the season last week in the win at Celta Vigo. In fairness to him, it was his first start.
I can see another draw here for Atletico. Bakambu and Bacca will be a threat to Atletico and if Villarreal have belief, they can dictate the style of the game with possession.
I expect Atletico to come out flying from the start, possibly getting the first goal through Gameiro and then looking to hang on to that lead.
It’s a habit that has been formed and one that I don’t think serves them well anymore. Therefore, I’m going for Gameiro to score first and an eventual 1-1 draw.
- Correct score: Atletico 1, Villarreal 1 (13-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Gameiro (21-5, Unibet)
- Villarreal double chance (33-20, Unibet)
Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona (Sat 7.45pm)
Ernesto Valverde makes his first return to San Mames since taking over at Barcelona. His replacement Cuco Ziganda is going through a sticky period and it is going to be fascinating to see if Athletic can raise their game, as they usually do when one of the big teams visit the Basque Country.
They certainly need to as their current run of form is giving cause for concern to the Athletic Bilbao faithful.
After gaining seven points from the opening three games, they have struggled in recent weeks. They are also struggling in the Europa League, picking up only two points from the opening 3 games in their group.
The complaint, and it’s a valid one, is that Ziganda is making far too many changes on a game to game basis, and they are lacking continuity regarding performance levels. He has been hit hard with the long-term loss of Iker Muniain through injury but he certainly hasn’t helped himself with his constant rotation policy. He is now firmly under pressure.
Valverde’s reign at Barcelona appears to have got off to a smooth start. However, I believe better is yet to come. They are unscathed in all competitions, winning eight and drawing at Atletico Madrid in La Liga and winning all three in the Champions League. Despite this impressive record, I don’t believe they have hit top form just yet.
Messi has carried them to a degree and Luis Suarez needs to start pulling his weight. He was substituted last week and deservedly so. It’s a continuing theme so far this season regarding Suarez. Just when you feel he is showing signs of regaining his sharpness another poor performance appears.
He certainly is not in his usual groove at the moment. I’m even beginning to wonder if his place is under threat in the strongest Barcelona line-up. Valverde appears the type that won’t shirk that responsibility if he feels it is needed.
I think he will start in this game and how he responds is crucial. Barcelona will certainly have to improve on the form that saw them beat bottom of the table Malaga last week in a 2-0 home victory, and Athletic have to improve on their form after they lost last time out away at Leganés.
I would make Barcelona just slight favourites going into this game but the uncertain form of both teams makes this interesting.
I have more faith that Barcelona will reach a better level of performance, as they will be expecting what they usually get at San Mames. That is a tough physical encounter backed by passionate fans and a team that raises their game to try to give them a bloody nose. That should focus their attention.
I’m just not sure that Athletic are capable at this moment of raising their current form and it might turn out to be a more conclusive win than normal for the visiting team.
I’m going to go for the away win and of course, it has to be Suarez with the first goal in a 3-1 win.
- Corect score: Bilbao 1, Barca 3 (19-2, Unibet)
- First scorer: Suarez (7-2, Unibet)
- Barca win (47-100, Unibet)
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