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 two key Saturday games.
Real Madrid v Alaves (Sat 3.15pm)
First of all, a word of warning for this weekend. We have a midweek round of fixtures next week and this often plays havoc with the mindset of some managers who don’t have to contend with the pile up of fixtures in quick succession too often. This game may well be the perfect example and place to start!
Alavés are on a great run of form and last week gained their 22nd point from the last 33 available. After Week 13 they were rock bottom having only collected six points. They made another managerial change and Abelardo Fernández became their third manager of the season.
Since then, they have won seven, drawn one and lost three against Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona. They have won three on the trot and are now 10 points clear of relegation. It should be a perfect opportunity to embrace the challenge of facing Real at the Bernabeu.
Last week however during the 1-0 home win over Deportivo la Coruńa, perhaps we got an indicator of how they are truly approaching this game. Top goal scorer, Munir El Haddadi, bagged the winner in the 1-0 victory before being substituted in the 87th minute.
Knowing full well he was on four yellow cards for the season, he made his way off from the far side of the pitch in the slowest way possible. He got a warning from the referee and then continued to trudge off slowly trying to shake everybody’s hand hoping that the referee would book him.
The referee obliged and he was then congratulated by his manager when he eventually got to the technical area. This means that he is now suspended for this game and will be available for Thursday's home clash with Levante which Abelardo sees as a more winnable game.
Personally, I can’t believe a player would throw away an opportunity to play at the Bernabeu against Real and I certainly wouldn’t have followed the orders of the manager to pass up the chance of playing in one of the standout games of the season.
In normal circumstances I would have given Alavés a chance due to their current form and confidence but knowing what I do now I’m going all out for the Real win. Ronaldo was rested in midweek so he will play and the big question is will Gareth Bale start after appearing as a sub in the win at Leganés?
I’m going for at least a 3-0 home win and Ronaldo to continue his hot streak with the first goal.
- Real 3, Alaves 0 (7-1, Unibet)
- Ronaldo to score first (51-20, Unibet)
- Real to score 3+ (23-50, Unibet)
Barcelona v Girona (Sun 7.45pm)
This is an interesting game. It's a Catalan Derby and I’m hoping that is enough to motivate Girona to be competitive. However, they play on Tuesday at home to Celta Vigo and might consider that to be a more realistic winnable game.
It genuinely is but I’m hoping they and manager Pablo Machin still show integrity in this game. They have no relegation worries and therefore should embrace the three-games-a-week scenario but I simply believe Barcelona will still have enough to defeat them come what may.
Will we see a few players rested by Ernesto Valverde? I believe it is time to do so. Gerard Pique physically looks in need of a break and Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele in particular both need time to integrate to the Barcelona style of play. This fixture should be ideal to do exactly that after the exertions at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Barcelona’s team might have a few changes but they have the quality in depth to defeat Girona without too many problems. With £250 million spent on Coutinho and Dembele it’s not a bad option for Valverde to have in reserve. I'd be very surprised if Dembele doesn’t get a start and it’s about time he opened his goal scoring account.
I’m predicting a comfortable 3-0 win once again and Dembele to get the opening goal.
- Barca 3, Girona 0 (23-4, Unibet)
- Dembele to score first (11-2, Unibet)
- Barca to score 3+ (14-25, Unibet)
Unibet are making a big splash in the UK betting scene and if you join them today you can claim up to £30 in Welcome Bonuses when you deposit and place your first bet.