The Debt-Drowning Weekend Predictions - Round 21

SaturdayAthletic (10th) vs Málaga (7th)Imagine for one miserable moment that those scandalously high Telefonica bills were getting a little bit too much for you.

Imagine you had flogged your super-duper, love-of-your-life plasma TV to your friend to pay the bills and keep the financial wolf from the door. Now imagine your scumbag friend failing to pay for the TV in question, but instead sitting in their sofa of smugness watching quality canned-laughter Spanish entertainment such as ‘Escenas de Matrimonio’.This is exactly what has happened to poor old Athletic Bilbao - apart from the TV, telephone bill and sofa part - a club that has been completely messed up by those muppets at Mallorca. Close to transfer deadline day in the summer, the Basque club flogged striker Aritz Aduritz to Mallorca to raise some much-needed funds. Unfortunately, report AS, the Balearic club’s pecuniary problems led to their first payment cheque bouncing and the second failing to arrive, meaning that nearly two million euro is now owed to Athletic - a debt that has led to the Spanish League banning Mallorca from signing players (in the remaining days left).But this is as much use as a Guti on Countdown to Athletic, who have been left with their thumb up their jacksi, without a very good striker and the money the club should have got for him. LLL Prediction - Home win Numancia (17th) vs Real Madrid (2nd)In order to help soothe the souls of those kind-hearted La Liga Loca readers who continue to fret over the future of Ramón Calderón, the blog is pleased to bring another update from his post-Madrid existence. Last week, the world read how the forgiving figure-of-fun was out chuckling and backslapping at Pachá with the two gentlemen who were fired for supposedly fixing the Assembly vote, which in turn led to Calderón’s tearful resignation. But there was another reason for Ramón’s crazy night of congas as he has landed a brand new job. Current Spanish FA president, Angel Villar has put Calderón in charge of the Spanish federation’s centenary celebrations.“I always help my friends,” explained Villar on the careful selection process undertaken in choosing their new appointee. “Perhaps the president of the Federation doesn’t understand that things don’t get done through friendships or paternalism?” mused Santiago Segurola in Marca, forgetting for one crazy moment what country he is living in. Now that everyone can breath a sigh of relief knowing that Calderón will not be spending his dying days busking in metro Bilbao, it’s time to spare a thought for poor old Roberto Gómez - Marca’s man-in-the-know. Ever since the ‘most honourable man in the world, ever, ever’ Calderón quit, Gómez has been fairly quiet on the whole sleazy subject. With Florentino Pérez yet to announce his candidature (perhaps, put off by the opposition), the crazed columnist has had to focus all his toadying energy on, current Madrid president, Vicente Boluda. On Wednesday, Gómez wrote about the 17 wonderful ways in which Boluda had improved Real Madrid and, in Fridayp’s edition, he purrs that the combination of the current Bernabeu bigwig and Juande Ramos is “like a very comfortable marriage.” LLL Prediction - Away winSunday Atlético (6th) vs Valladolid (12th) Off the field, the latest paper talk in the rojiblanco world concerns - of course - the eventual sacking of Javier Aguirre. The question now is not if, but when the flat-topped genius will be packing his bags and quitting the Calderón.The current favourite to replace the Mexican manager is, former Espanyol boss, Ernesto Valverde, who is currently doing a fine job with Olympiacos. On the pitch, it looks like Atlético will be continuing with their bad boy tag team with Ever Banega returning to the line-up after his sending off against Almería two weeks ago. “I’ll try not to make the same mistakes again,” promised the self-managing midfielder.Banega could be taking up the big berth left by Maniche who is sitting out the match against Valladolid whilst serving out a suspension for a yellow card picked up last week against Málaga - an encounter where he returned to the line-up after picking up a two game suspension after seeing red against Athletic. LLL Prediction - Home winEspanyol (19th) vs Recreativo (15th)After the faux-chum hugging between Ramón Calderón and Joan ‘Joan’ Laporta of the past couple of years, it was refreshing to return to decent, old-fashioned, back-to-basics, family values hatred between a presidential pair. Espanyol boss, Daniel Sánchez Llibre and his Barcelona counterpart share a deep loathing for each other that has its origins in the non-transfer of Javier Saviola and the loan of a hairdryer. For that reason, the world was blessed with the fantastic image of the duelling duo sitting next to each other last week in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey clash, doing their level best to avoid each other’s eye contact.

Sadly, there was to be no repeat performance on Thursday with the Perico president politely declining the offer of the pre-match dinner and a place next to the throne of the King of Catalunya.LLL Prediction - Home win

Betis (16th) vs Getafe (11th)Oh dear. It’s all gone very Pete Tong down in Betico land.

Wednesday’s goalless draw against Mallorca in the Copa Del Rey saw the side eliminated and the club’s powder keg begin to fizz and fuzz. “The Betis side needs to take 500 steps forward,” opined Paco Chaparro after the game. “Right now, we are only taking 50.” Angry sons of one half of Seville protested by spraying tags around the ground with the now traditional insults that the players are mercenaries and that Darth de Lopera should go forth and multiply in many different ways. The club has reacted to their impending doom by renewing attempts to sign a striker hours before deadline day.

Although deals with both Zaragoza for the return of Ricardo Oliveira and a loan move for Inter’s Obinha have been reported, La Liga Loca won’t believe a word of them until it can see pictures of a forlorn forward posing with a shirt screaming, “Noooo!!! Why Meeeee!!!” to the heavens. LLL Prediction - DrawRacing (9th) vs Barcelona (1st)La Liga Loca had to rub its eyes in amazement when it saw the admirable attendance at Thursday night’s vaguely entertaining Copa Del Rey clash with Espanyol. With previous ties having barely touched the 200 mark and Barça’s last league outing drawing just 47,330 spectators, a whopping 78,000 gathered at the Camp Nou.Having tried Catalan Catchphrase and a strip tease by the Dream Team to tempt the Barcelona hordes in, the club finally faced economic reality and dropped the ticket prices to seven euro for the night’s feast of football - that and Joan Laporta’s militia rounding up anyone wandering the streets of the Catalan capital and bundling them into the stadium. Meanwhile, those funny folk over at Sport have saved the poor punter from bothering to watch the rest of the tournament or indeed the Champions League by boldly predicting that Pep’s Dream Boys will be in both finals come the end of the season. “We are not dreaming, just making plans for the future,” writes Josep Casanovas marking the double date in his readers’ diaries. LLL Prediction - DrawDeportivo (8th) vs Villarreal (5th) Another club in dire financial straits are Deportivo.

Last week, a politely-pretending-not-to-be-bored Julian de Guzmán told the blog that his contract renewal talks were very much up in the air with little movement from the club on his immediate future. And this is possibly because Deportivo owe him a whole stack of cash already. Marca report that the midfielder is looking to get his Canadian mitts on 537,000 thousand euro owed from his signing-on fee and image rights. “I’m only asking for what’s mine,” argued de Guzmán. LLL Prediction - DrawOsasuna (20th) vs Mallorca (18th) When one comes across a gaggle of Spanish club presidents, one is definitely left with the impression that it’s a group that definitely likes to have its cake and eat it. But Osasuna boss, Patxi Izco has learned this week that this cannot always be the way of the world. After the penalty-denying incidents at the Bernabeu a fortnight ago, the Pamplonan boss threw his toys so far out his pram that they landed in France, by cutting off ties with the refereeing association. Perhaps fearing that he may have gone a little too far with his Tarragona-sized tantrum, Izco arranged a meeting with the group in Madrid and set off for the Spanish capital. The trouble was that the association cancelled the appointment whilst poor Patxi was mid-journey. By fax. “They have my mobile number and could have called me,” sighed Osasuna’s U-turning titan. LLL Prediction - Home win (please)Valencia (4th) vs Almería (13th) A failure to win on Sunday against, old club, Almería will be a big test to see whether Unai Emery is as flame-proof as he appears in the Spanish press. Two league defeats and a last minute chucking out of the Copa Del Rey by Sevilla sees Unai under some pressure at a club not exactly known for its patience. However, it may be that Emery’s goose will remain uncooked for some time with, current president, Vicente Soriano more concerned with stopping the Mestalla club sinking into the Med with its burden of debt. “In the first week of February we will be paying all our players,” promised Soriano breaking a fine tradition of many Spanish clubs, these days. LLL Prediction - Home winSporting (14th) vs Sevilla (3rd)On the happy flip side of Thursday’s thriller, it’s a sunny Sevilla who now go through to the Copa Del Rey semis to take on Athletic Bilbao. Having rushed through the early rounds of the cup like Maniche after an ice-cream van, the first of the penultimate ties will take place on February 4 with a month-long wait until the second leg. Under the assumption that he will still be in the job, Sevilla boss, Manolo Jiménez is already looking forward to getting through the semis against Athletic and the final, to be held in Valencia. “I just want to say to Joaquín (Caparrós) that we are going to try to go through and I hope he comes to the final in Valencia as a spectator,” blasted the Sevilla manager in the poorest impression of a WWE wrestler. LLL Prediction - Home win

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