The next best thing...
Guillem Balague discusses Real's title chase, Valencia's belief and a potential Spanish superstar.
Last Updated: 11/03/11 8:26am
Sky Sports' Spanish football expert Guillem Balague looks at this week's Sky Live La Liga games.
If you've got a question for Guillem, send it to email@example.com.
Real Madrid v Hercules
6.55pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD3
For those of you who want to put money on this game, you could do a lot worse than back Real Madrid to win by a large margin. Hercules, when they play away from home, actually play worse because they can hide - something they can't do in front of their own fans. They are not playing as a team at present - they are simply a bunch of individuals, which makes them incredibly vulnerable. It's not all plain sailing at Real either. As I said on Revista, Jose Mourinho would opt to leave Real Madrid in the summer if he had to make a decision today because he feels he is going one way and the club another; he feels as if he has to fight against the tide. I'll explain what I mean further in the next few weeks.
Zaragoza v Valencia
9pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD3
Valencia have become efficient and now that they have a strong team personality they are developing that through victories; they've notched up nine wins and only one defeat - to Barcelona - in their last 13 league games. With that run in mind, you have to back them to keep performing. Interestingly, Unai Emery has not renewed his contract yet because the club feels it is good that he is kept on his toes. I have no doubt that he will stay, however.
Villarreal v Sporting
5.55pm, Sun, Sky Sports HD1
Villarreal have been disappointing, especially away from home; once or twice a season the level of the team seems to drop. You can't blame that entirely on pressure because there are enough experienced players in the squad to demand more of everybody; equally, there is no pressure from the media or from the fans. From that perspective, it is an easy place to play and live. But you do have to factor in the Europa League and the fact that they don't sufficient strength in depth to compete on all fronts. That's why they have been hit and miss in the league.
Sevilla v Barcelona
7.55pm, Sun, Sky Sports HD1
It's interesting that the current suggestion coming out of Sevilla is that Gregorio Manzano may stay if he takes them to the Europa League. I think those leaks are just a way of hiding the real situation at the club, which is that those in charge feel that they need a different brand of manager in charge. They want to go back to basics and the old philosophy that helped nurture the talents of Sergio Ramos and Dani Alves and start bringing new players through, because they feel that they are punching above their weight.
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.
Hi Guillem. Big fan of your column. My question is related to Keirrison. Barcelona spent a fair bit of money on him, 15 million euros, and loaned him straight to Benfica. He seems to have moved around from club to club, not really performing. Does he have a future at Barcelona? He is still young, and his goal-scoring record before joining Barca was very good, but with the likes of Pedro, Villa, Messi and Bojan what chance does he have? Alex M.
GUILLEM SAYS: You're obviously well-informed, Alex. After spending all that money on Keirrison, I think the plan was to sell him for double that because he looked a fashionable player at the time. But it has backfired on the club. It was the same case with Henrique, from Brazil, who is now on loan at Racing; they paid too much for him so selling Keirrison would be a way of recouping some of that money.
Hi Guillem! As a Barcelona supporter i have grown tired of the Cesc saga. I feel they should let him stay at Arsenal. As an alternative why don't they go for Borja Valero? That guy is damn good. I watched them playing Madrid at the Bernabeu and he tormented them. I don't even know how they lost that game. Borja is at the peak of his career and he will come cheap compared to Cesc. I know he is a product of Madrid but the way he plays is similar to Barca. What do you think? Xolani Mkhize (Barcelona fan)
GUILLEM SAYS: Valero will be a wanted man in the summer, Xolani. I think Barcelona will go for him if Arsenal don't accept 40-45m for Cesc; he would be the perfect player to bring a bit more creativity to midfield. But Barcelona may face competition from Chelsea and it would be great to see him partner Fernando Torres at Stamford Bridge.
CLOSE TO PERFECT
Hi Guillem I'm a big fan or yours and was wondering if you think Tito Vilanova will become manager when Pep moves on, and if he does how do you think he would do? Also I love the way Thiago Alcantara plays and I'm looking forward to him being in the first team next year and I was wondering if you know anything about his future as in whether he is planning on committing to Barca or will he be the sort of player that moves around a lot? Thanks from Dan
GUILLEM SAYS: I think Tito Vilanova will always be with Pep Guardiola because they work perfectly together. Pep has got a strong personality, while Tito is more shy but they share the same passion, beliefs and philosophy so they have to work together even if Pep goes abroad - which I think he will at some point. Meanwhile, people are saying that Thiago Alcantara is better than Xavi, Cesc and Iniesta. For me those three players have got something extra to offer on top of their natural ability - namely, mental strength. The one doubt I have about Thiago is that too often he likes to focus on himself instead of thinking more generally about the team. If he improves on that and becomes stronger mentally then he could be the superstar of Spanish football in the next 10 years. So watch him closely.