Liverpool favourites against Villarreal, says Terry Gibson
By David Bowers
Last Updated: 25/04/16 7:49pm
Liverpool will be favourites to beat Villarreal in their Europa League semi-final tie as the Spanish side are 'running out of steam', according to Terry Gibson.
'El Submarino Amarillo' have performed above expectations this season and currently sit in fourth place in La Liga, but they have failed to win their previous three league games - which includes defeats in the Spanish capital to Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid.
Off the back of Sunday's disappointing 0-0 home draw with Real Sociedad, Gibson remains intrigued ahead of Thursday's first-leg tie at El Madrigal, but feels striker Roberto Soldado has to start scoring, having netted just once in his previous 11 games.
"I'm concerned about their upcoming fixture with Liverpool, I think they are running out of steam. It's been a couple of defeats prior to the game against Real Sociedad - and they weren't great against Sociedad," Gibson told the La Liga Weekly Podcast.
"Cedric Bakambu looks lively, which is a saviour for them at the moment. We've mentioned Roberto Soldado a number of times; he's not scoring, but he's contributing to what has been a fruitful partnership.
"But Soldado has to start scoring goals. He has to deliver over the two legs against Liverpool.
"Can they switch the form back on? We know the importance of European football to Villarreal, who are a relatively small club.
"A European semi-final against one of the legends of European football is a huge occasion for Villarreal, so we'll see."
When asked if Liverpool were the favourites, Gibson replied: "I probably would say yeah. The second leg at Anfield probably favours Liverpool too. I'm undecided because of the form of Villarreal, and I'm waiting to see whether they will kick back into life and be the team that we saw six weeks ago.
"I think if people are expecting Villarreal to attack Liverpool in the opening 20 minutes, that's not their style.
"They're a slow burner, it takes them a while to tick over and they'll be relying on Bakambu. It'll be an interesting game, and I'd make Liverpool slight favourites."
Former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres was another topic of conversation on the Podcast, after the Atletico Madrid striker scored five goals in six games to help continue his side's title charge.
Some have suggested that Torres deserves a spot in Spain's squad for the European Championship, but Gibson feels Spain are well stocked in the striking department.
"It's been a a good end to the season for Torres, but if you look at (Juventus' Alvaro) Morata and (Athletic Bilbao's Artiz) Aduriz, they're clearly ahead of Torres.
"Aduriz has been in great form, added to the other players they've got - Diego Costa, Paco Alcacer - I just don't see any place for Torres in the final Spain squad."