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 he previews two key Saturday games
Sevilla v Villarreal (Sat 12pm)
We do have a midweek round of fixtures following this weekend’s games and this just adds to the stress for Sevilla. They face Villarreal who are above them in the league midday on Saturday, travel to Deportivo la Coruńa on Tuesday and then a quick build-up to the Copa del Rey final next Saturday against Barcelona.
They are also facing the prospect of not qualifying for European football next season which is something they have only failed to do once in the last 13 seasons.
They really have to bounce back from the midweek disappointment of going out in the Champions League to Bayern Munich where they showed that they really are capable of mixing it with the best by only going out 2-1 on aggregate against one of the giants of European football.
I believe they can bounce back and I am going to back them in this game. Vincenzo Montella is certainly going to have to rotate the starting line up to have a chance in the next three games but the squad is capable of closing the gap on Villarreal in this game.
Villarreal also have their own problems to deal with. I co-commentated on their game Monday night when they lost 3-1 at home to Athletic Bilbao. It was a lacklustre performance from Javier Calleja’s team who eventually ended up with only nine men on the field.
Two players very worryingly collapsed during the game. Pablo Fornals after only five minutes and Jaume Costa did the same when Villarreal had used all of their substitutions. Astonishingly Jaume Costa was then seen being grappled and restrained in a very aggressive manner by the club doctor when he attempted to return to the pitcfh. It was all rather strange! Alvaro Gonzalez was also sent off.
News hasn’t been forthcoming on why two players suffered in this way in the same game. Annoyingly, at times, the Spanish press only focus on two teams in this league. I don’t expect either, or I hope not to see either in this game and Alvaro Gonzalez is of course suspended.
The type of performance we saw from Villarreal on Monday is not far away from costing the manager his job and I must admit I wasn’t sure he would survive through to this game. After saying all of this they currently lie in 6th position and a point above Sevilla so the stakes are high in this game.
I’m going for home advantage along with the fact that Villarreal will be severely weakened and go for the Sevilla win. They will take some strength from the midweek performance in Munich and will fully realise the importance of this game. I’m going for a 2-0 home win with Luis Muriel getting the opening goal for Sevilla.
- Sevilla 2, Villarreal 0 (17-2, Unibet)
- Muriel to score first (22-5, Unibet)
- Sevilla win (17-20, Unibet)
Barcelona v Valencia (Sat 3.15pm)
This is a very tough game for “shellshocked” Barcelona. Nobody saw that result coming against Roma on Tuesday evening and it is going to be interesting to see how they respond. Perhaps a big game against a team in third position is just what they need to get back on track, or maybe not?
We shall see. There are new goals for Barcelona now. The unbeaten record is now prominent on their mind and of course the Copa del Rey final is next Saturday against Sevilla.
There can be no doubt though that going out of the Champions League again in the quarter-final and with a three-goal advantage going into the second leg will somewhat tarnish what had been an outstanding season for Barcelona and Valverde in his first season as manager, so it is imperative that they respond immediately.
If they win the domestic double and remain unbeaten in La Liga then of course it will still be an outstanding season, lessons will have been learnt and Valverde can move on looking ahead to next season.
There is no doubt he hasn’t rotated enough in recent weeks in the league campaign. That has now proven to be a mistake that he has made. Casemiro is the player for Real Madrid who has played the most minutes this season and Barcelona have eight players who have played more than Casemiro!
Ivan Rakitic who is one of those eight will miss this match after surgery on a broken finger suffered during the game in Rome but I expect Coutinho to return in this game.
Valencia will certainly fancy their chances of being the first to beat Barcelona this season. Simone Zaza will have been watching Edin Dzeko torment Pique and Umtiti and being a very similar striker he will be hoping to do exactly the same in this game.
If Valencia are positive and aggressive they can trouble Barcelona but if Marcelino takes a backwards step it will play into their opponents' hands. Despite Barca capitulating midweek I’m going to retain the faith in them and back them to succeed in this game, they have been fantastic and consistent this season and I’m expecting the attitude of champions in this game to prevail.
It’s you know who to score the first goal in a 2-1 win for me as he will look to finish off the season in style and continue to carry Barcelona to their inevitable title win. Just in case you didn’t realise I mean Lionel Messi!
- Barca 2, Valencia 1 (15-2, Unibet)
- Messi to score first (13-5, Unibet)
- Bot teams to score (17-25, Unibet)
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