We're set for another week of cracking action in La Liga, so who better to look ahead to the four live games on Sky Sports than our Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.
If you've got a question for Guillem, send it in here.
I will be there in the stadium on Saturday and it's important to remember that Espanyol at home are a different side to Espanyol away and the atmosphere created by the fans, because of the marriage between them and the team at the moment, means Espanyol offers a new dimension when they play at home. I think Barcelona are going to have a really hard time here - unless they score early, in which case that's it!
I think it will be a very tough game and I can even see this being a draw. The thing is, the last few teams to have faced Barcelona - particularly Deportivo in midweek - have not had enough on the physical side and if Espanyol can get that and take it the emotional level like they did when they won at the Camp Nou last year, Barca aren't calm enough to beat.
In football terms Barca are much better, there's no doubt about that - but it's a derby and anything can happen!
Basically Atletico Madrid have given up in the league, there's no doubt about it. Some players are not performing, players who haven't been used like Mariano Pernia and Pablo get used in La Liga and basically Atletico minds are on the Europa League and the Copa del Rey.
Villarreal have had a very good home record since the arrival of Juan Carlos Garrido as coach. But I do think he tries to manage them too much, makes too many changes, like playing with a 4-3-3 and three forwards up front which for me, is too much, because with three forwards you need wide players. But even then this one should be Villarreal's just because of Atletico's mental state.
This should be a great game, a real classic of La Liga. Athletic Bilbao are trying to desperately make an impact and get into that top four and will be there or thereabouts, but I still have a feeling that Villarreal or Sevilla are better suited in the long run.
But Bilbao are having a great season, especially at home, and keep an eye out for Fernando Llorente, who is edging Alvaro Negredo to get into the national side. He offers more in terms of holding the ball up, heading the ball, assists and goals - he is the second highest Spanish scorer in La Liga.
Well Real Madrid will want to get to 98 points, which in any other year would've won the league, but this year won't be enough because of course, Barcelona can get to 101.
Valencia on the other hand, have gone from being La Liga's best away side in the first half of the season to the worst away side in the second half of the season. Their players seem tired but more importantly, they seem to have lost faith in the manager, Unai Emery. That was pretty clear when Alejandro Dominguez and Ever Banega were substituted recently and just didn't seem pleased - Banega had to apologise after the game because he was very aprubt towards Emery.
I think it's clear that Emery is not going to be staying and that is having an effect because the players keep challening him privately and publicly.
Guillem answers your questions...
Got a question for Guillem? Then send it in here or use the feedback form below, and then look out for his answer next week.
ARTETA OUT IN THE COLD?
Hi Guillem I just wanted to know your opinion on Mikel Arteta and if you think he could make Spain's World Cup squad? I accept the amount of world class midfielders Spain currently have who are ahead of him in the pecking order but I think its a travesty that he hasn't even won a cap and players like Albert Riera have. With Fabregas being injured I think Arteta could be the perfect replacement. Dan Jones (Everton fan)
GUILLEM SAYS: One of the things with the Spanish World Cup squad Dan, is it's like a club team; they are all used to playing together and even if there are injuries there are other players coming through ahead of Arteta, like Javi Martinez, like Pedro, like Andoni Iraola that all offer different solutions. The problem Arteta has is he is a midfielder, a wide man he's not fast enough to offer something like Jesus Navas and as a central player, well obviously there are plenty of them. I do think there was a time when he should have been called up and entered that dynamic of central players that would've meant him going to South Africa. He's good enough to be in the squad, it's just he was born in the wrong decade when Spain has so many central midfielders.
WILL JUANDE RETURN ONE DAY?
Hi Guillem. In Spain, the manager is only as good as his last few games! So despite Manolo Jimenez doing pretty well this year, just a bad run of results has seen him go. Now that Aragones has rejected the offer to be manager, any chance they'll go back to the out of work Juande Ramos? Or is there too much bad blood left over between him and del Nido for that to ever happen? If so, who would be your pick for Sevilla? Thanks, Shush, USA
GUILLEM SAYS: Antonio Alvarez is only in charge until the end of the season and I've been told that Gregorio Manzano, the Real Mallorca coach, has a pre-agreement with Sevilla, which if it breaks down either has to pay the other a certain amount of money, depending on the reason. So that looks like it will happen but there are also other managers like Michael Laudrup, who I wish was given a chance at a club like that.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Hi Guillem, love the show and the article! Just wondering after your piece about Sergio Canales what you think about players signing transfers months before they move? Surely they would have a conflict of interest, maybe not so much in this case but if the match was going to have a say in, for example, whether their new club would get into a European competition? Does that not leave all parties open to all sorts of allegations?! Bryn Sturgeon
GUILLEM SAYS: Well Bryn, you answer your own question in a way! This conflict of interest you mention, does it not leave all parties open to all sorts of allegations? Allegations are one thing though, what happens on the pitch is another. And you will know if you've ever played football that once you go out on the pitch, you want to win no matter who you are playing. In fact it may work the other way, Canales might try and make an impact against Real Madrid and that might bring the worst out in his football, instead of having a calm head. Then you could say that might unbalance the comeptition, but it happens all the time; there are lots of transfers that tend to happen this time of year that we don't hear about to the summer - and you wouldn't say that has affected big games, competitions or outcomes. It's part of football.
- Page 1 of 1
Alex Venus (Werder Bremen) (Werder Bremen fan) says...
Hi Guillem. Through your internal knowledge with the club, can you clarify for everyone whether these are just rumours that Pep Guardiola will only stay ar Barca for one more season because he has ambitions to manage Arsenal. Has this connection between these two giant clubs become to strong, citing the rumours that Clichy will go for 10 million this summer (probably half his transfer value). I'm guessing as a sweetener in the fabregas deal perhaps?
Posted 12:04 20th April 2010
George Dickson (Celtic) (Celtic fan) says...
hi guillem, my favourite player is inter's Ricardo Quaresma , he has not been the same since his big money move to inter milan, you may of seen him when he signed for barcelona from sporting lisbon when he was younger. what i'm getting at is why do some big name players such as quaresma not make it when they move from big clubs like porto to massive clubs like inter? and do you think he could make it to the world cup with portugal? he was in he squad all the time before he was at inter.
Posted 17:13 19th April 2010
Joe Gillan (Celtic) (Celtic fan) says...
Hi Guillem, i'm a big fan of la liga, i prefer it to the english premiership by far. what do u imagine will the big changes in the summer?,i feel that real madrid will go for rafa and mabye stevie G from liverpool,along with ribery or silva/villa,and i would love barca to bring back cesc from arsenal. imagine him,xavi and iniesta(a bit lightweight i know but if ur good enough ur light enough LOL) and also would u think any spanish or spanish-based managers would be interested in the celtic job if they were approached by the board (i.e michael laudrup)?
Posted 00:20 19th April 2010
Lay Durafe (Chelsea) (Chelsea fan) says...
Hey Guillem. Barcelona are mad about Fabregas, they have bid for him numerous times, even though Fabregas says he wants to stay at Arsenal his whole career. Don't you reckon Mikel Arteta is a perfect alternative to Fabregas? He is a great central midfielder with an attacking edge and is also a great set-piece taker. He can also play as a holding/defensive midfielder. And he would be a good investment as he is only 27 and has a lot of years to left in the tank. He would be perfect for Barca.
Posted 21:26 18th April 2010
Alex Royal (Newcastle United fan) says...
Hi Guillem, who do you think will be relegated from la liga this season?
Posted 14:07 18th April 2010
Carol Owen (Barcelona fan) says...
hello Guillem I am going on holiday to Barcelona in the next 2 weeks. Can you please tell me what days & at what time Barcelona FC team train at the Nou Camp. I would love to watch them train. My favourite player is Lionel Messi & I love to watch you on Sky Sports Guillem!!
Posted 22:34 17th April 2010
Dean B (Wigan Athletic fan) says...
Hi Guillem, I recently read an article from late last year where you stated Pep Guardiola almost joined Wigan Athletic when his contract with Barca expired. What more could you tell me about this? Pep Guardiola is one of my all time favourite players and to have seen him in a Wigan shirt would have been something special! Also, what do you make of Roberto Martinez at Wigan? True Wigan fans are still 100% behind him despite how the season has gone and we can see the direction he wants to take us in. I think he is trying to bring something of a Spanish system to the club with regards to tactics, the philosophy of the club and also the way we handle our young players. I honestly believe he will lead us into Europe in the future. How do you see it working out? And what insight can you give us into the way he works? Many thanks.
Posted 15:00 17th April 2010
Marina Llopart (Barcelona fan) says...
Guillem, how come you forgot to mention the latest comitee decision? Kameni will play after being sent off with a red card and having injured the player for what's left of competition. Albiol will also play against Valencia as the yellow card has been cleared. Let's hope Español don't injure any Barça player as usually they play dirty and cheeky but only against Barça.
Posted 08:48 17th April 2010
Ben Smith (Manchester United fan) says...
Hi Guillem, i have a question for you about Barcelona's famed youth academy. The number of world class players that they have produced over the last few years is staggering - Puyol, Valdes, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro and Bojan have all come through the ranks, not to mention Fabregas until he left for Arsenal. What is the secret to their success? Many thanks.
Posted 00:22 17th April 2010
Steve 7 (Shrewsbury Town fan) says...
Joaquin? To Man utd? You must be joking, hes no way near good enough, he peaked early and his best years are behind him. Pablo is way better. Mata too has been less than impressive in past few months and theres no way he'd be on the move the premier league, it just wouldnt suit his style of play. Silva would be a great signing but all the talk is of him moving to real madrid next season, which is a shame.
Posted 23:18 16th April 2010
Mika Chon (Manchester United fan) says...
There has been a lot of speculation about Silva and Villa. Man Utd seem interested but apparently Villa wants too much money and Valencia want £40m too, is it possible for the move to still happen? Silva seems more likely, would he be interested in a move to England or would he go to Madrid? Also what club does Villa prefer?
Posted 22:23 16th April 2010
Andrew Phillips (Manchester United fan) says...
Hi Guillem, Im a big fan of yours and it was great to meet you at Luton airport the other week. Just a quick one, do you think Barca will be able to afford both Ribery and Cesc next season? This is because im thinking these two will be their major targets next season and I was thinking will it be a case of one or another.
Posted 16:23 16th April 2010
Conor Adair (Barcelona fan) says...
Alright Guillem, is there any chance of barca signing ribery/silva/robben, considering how well pedro has done this season. Also is there a chance barca are changing their formation next season by playing two upfront with messi just in behind, and if they were to do this who would partner ibra upfront. Valdes should atleast be in the spanish squad for next season he has played well this season and is currently on track to win the golden gloves award and has kept 27 clean sheets this season, this could be down to barca's defence, but he has had some quality performances.
Posted 15:46 16th April 2010
Joe Kelly (Manchester United fan) says...
Hi Guillem, I just wanted to know your thoughts on Manchester United announcing on their official website that they are looking to bring in two players in the summer. I have read reports that Real Madrid are looking to cut their losses on Benzema and let him go for around £15 - £20 million, could this transfer be a possibility? If not can you see any players in La Liga realisitically moving to Manchester United
Posted 15:29 16th April 2010
Amit Kang (Liverpool fan) says...
Hi Guillem, love your articles. Of course as a Liverpool fan, it was a relief to hear that the club was finally put up for sale today. The rumours about us being linked with Juan Mata have gone quiet in recent months. Is there a chance Rafa may still go for him in the summer with money being available? Or maybe even David Silva? Thanks
Posted 15:22 16th April 2010
P Manc (Manchester United fan) says...
Hi Guillem, Big fan of yours. You're one of the very few 'experts' who understand football. A quick one - Valencia are a team that really excite me in Spain. David Silva, Joaquín and Mata..these three in particular rarely fail to impress. Which of these three do you think have a possiblilty of joining Man United next season ? Which ones do you think United need most?
Posted 12:54 16th April 2010
- Page 1 of 1