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.
Terry is looking at the matches at Alaves and Las Palmas and tomorrow will preview Eibar v Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid v Valencia.
Alaves v Barcelona, Saturday, 5.15pm
It was a decent start for Valverde at the weekend with the 2-0 home win over Betis and all things considered I thought it was a very good performance from Barca in these troubled times.
The team news is they will still be missing Luis Suarez but Iniesta and Pique are set for a return and Paulinho is available if selected for his debut.
Plus points for Valverde in that win would have been the performances of Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto. The right-back Semedo looked to be just what Barcelona have been searching for in terms of a replacement for Dani Alves and Sergi Roberto reminded us all as to his capabilities of being a very competent Barcelona-type midfield player. He is a far better midfield player than a right-back.
Valverde has used three different tactical systems in his three games and the set-up against Betis clearly appeared to be the best system for the group of players available to him, with Messi now back playing as a false 9.
In the absence of Suarez he led the line and was heavily involved in both goals. He was also unfortunate to have hit the woodwork on three occasions in that victory and he led from the front.
I'm finding it hard to see how Alavés can trouble Barcelona from an attacking perspective with no real established attacking prowess. Ruben Sobrino and Cristian Santos shouldn't be too much trouble for Pique and co at the back.
I expect competitive Wakaso in midfield to trouble the officials though! In general it doesn't take him long to pick up a yellow card.
Alavés will be aggressive and competitive but I believe Barca will still have too much quality for them. Alavés did produce a shock 2-1 win at the Nou Camp early last season but Barca responded with a 6-0 drubbing in the return at the Mendizorroza in February and then followed it up with a 3-1 win in the Copa del Rey final.
Incidentally four of the six goals scored in that heavy 6-0 win were of course scored by the MSN! It's Messi on his own again this week though and while he was extremely unlucky not to get on the scoresheet against Betis he still has to be the best bet for the opener in this one. I'm going to go for Messi as first scorer in a 3-0 away win for Barcelona.
- Alaves 0-3 Barcelona (7-1, unibet)
- Messi to score first (21-10, unibet
- Safe Bet: Messi to score at any time (1-2, unibet)
Las Palmas v Atletico Madrid, Saturday, 9.15pm
Another away game for Atletico as the new stadium still remains to be signed off. They have to wait until week four on September 17 to face Malaga in the new Wanda Metropolitano.
Can they perform better and in a different manner to what they showed last week at Girona? Their case won't be helped by the fact Griezmann is suspended, although they performed considerably better last week when he departed the field of play after his sending off.
That was nothing to do with Griezmann though, it was more to do with the change in attitude from Simeone when he had his “back to the wall” with his side getting outplayed and trailing 2-0.
The brakes were taken off by Simeone and his team responded with a great showing of character to salvage a draw in a really difficult situation. The tactical restrictions were abandoned and he and his team had no choice other than to go for it. Why wait though until you were 2-0 down and down to 10 men?
It was a sluggish approach from Simeone and his team against one of the newly-promoted outfits and for 70 minutes they were totally outplayed.
Atletico, in typical Simeone, fashion were happy to concede possession and allowed Girona to gain confidence and belief. If there was any apprehension from the new boys facing one of the big clubs in La Liga they never showed it. They were almost invited by Atletico to assert authority on that game and they obliged.
Cristian Stuani became the first player to score two headers in one game against Atletico since Simeone took over! Is it a coincidence that Godin was suspended? He is back for this game and his leadership skills are very much needed.
Las Palmas started off with an away 1-0 defeat at Valencia, not a bad result or performance from a team who played two thirds of that match with 10 men after Halilovic was red carded in the first half.
He will be suspended and Vitolo cannot play against his parent club. These two absences do weaken Las Palmas. Expect last week’s scorer Angel Correa to fill in for Griezmann. It was Correa who completely changed the game last week when he came on as a sub. Gameiro is still injured so Fernando Torres will probably play up alongside him.
If Atletico have learnt a lesson then I have no doubt they are the stronger option in this game. If they haven't and they perform in the same style then Las Palmas could have fun.
I'm going to go for a far more industrious performance from Atletico and predict an away win. I'm also going to go for Correa to continue with the scoring, I'm hoping this is going to be the season for him to really show his true potential.
So Correa with the first goal, a clean sheet for Godin and a 2-0 Atletico victory to get them up and running. Something they didn't do much of last week!
- Las Palmas 0, Atletico Madrid 2 (13-2, unibet)
- Correa to score first (11-2, unibet)
- Safe bet: Atletico to win to nil (9-5, unibet)
Anglo-Italian Paolo Bandini writes about Italian football for the Guardian and his tips appear here thanks to our football partner at MrFixitsTips, Unibet. They're 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.