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.
Eibar v Valencia (Sat 5pm)
I doubted Valencia last week in their home game against Celta Vigo and I’m kind of glad I was wrong. I thought they were showing signs of just falling below the high standards that they have so far shown this season and that maybe they were just losing a bit of faith and belief in themselves.
Sometimes a single player can raise the hopes of a team in those circumstances and last week that is exactly what happened.
Simone Zaza was my player of last weekend in round 15 of La Liga. His performance was sensational. He led the line, was aggressive and dynamic and he galvanised the whole of the Mestalla with his infectious attitude.
He dragged a performance out of his team-mates who began the game looking slightly apprehensive and just as importantly he fired up the Valencia supporters, who more than backed their team after the first defeat of the season at Getafe last time out.
It wasn’t a highly technical performance but it was equally as impressive as a player beating players with dribbling skills or a masterclass in passing ability. He was aggressive, he chased lost causes, scored the opening goal of the game and fulfilled all aspects of the modern day centre forward.
How on earth did it not happen for him at West Ham?
Unfortunately for Valencia, he is not available for this game after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Celta and is suspended.
Eibar have found some form. It’s three wins and a draw in the last four, after going back to the basics that have served them well in recent seasons. It’s a 4-4-2 direct hard-working approach and that is pretty similar to Valencia.
They have never really threatened the top teams at the Ipurua stadium and that has always surprised me. It is made to ensure opponents suffer, with its unique surroundings, but as yet that hasn’t been the case. It’s the smallest stadium in La Liga with a capacity of around 7000 but the big teams normally prevail.
It’s not going to be easy for Valencia without Zaza and somebody else is going to have to be the talisman in his absence, my guess is it may be the highly impressive midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.
I learnt my lesson last week in doubting Valencia and I’m going to go for them to shade it with their overall quality.
- Eibar 1, Valencia 2 (8-1, Unibet)
- Santi Mina to score first (6-1, Unibet)
- Valencia win (6-4, Unibet)
Atletico Madrid v Alaves (Sat 7.45pm)
Very quietly but surely, Atletico have gone about their business this season and we have all suddenly realised that they are back in the frame for a title challenge.
Last week’s 1-0 away win over Betis set a new club record of 19 consecutive La Liga games without defeat and the victory meant that they had gone a whole calendar year without tasting defeat away from home. Nobody had noticed either of these impressive records until last week.
They are not spectacular and they are always down the pecking order in terms of media coverage behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, but they have certainly gone under the radar this season.
Mind you, that might not be the case for much longer with only two games to go until Diego Costa starts grabbing a few headlines. This week they play Alavés, who have won their last two games. They had only won two all season before that, so credit where credit is due.
It is unfortunate for them that they now have to go to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Simeone’s team.
Griezmann should be back from injury after missing the Betis win and I fully expect Atletico to be too good in this game.
Defensively, Atletico have to be aware of Ibai Gomez who has scored four in the last two games, that’s four of the five scored by Alavés in their two wins and he is a winger. I think it’s fair to say it’s a purple patch as he only scored five in the whole of last season.
Atletico to win for me, by the scoreline of 2-0, with Griezmann coming back in style with the first goal of the game.
- Atletico 2, Alaves 0 (21-5, Unibet)
- Griezmann to score first (51-20, Unibet)
- Atletico -1 (31-50, Unibet)
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