The Dentist-visiting, Ref-imitating Weekend Predictions

SATURDAY

Sporting (16th) v Zaragoza (18th)The traditional footballers' "final" countdown was kicked off at the beginning of 2011, with Atlético’s Tomas Ujfalusi claiming that his club had 19 of them left until the end of the season. Strangely, the Rojiblanco defender has gone very quiet on the final affair now that most of the first bunch have been lost.

Zaragoza left-back Ivan Obradovic has joined in by blasting that his team have 14 finals to go, starting with Saturday’s clash away at Sporting. Sadly for the Serbian defender, the first one is about to be lost.LLL Prediction – Home win

Atlético Madrid (9th) v Sevilla (7th)Ooh. This could be very tasty affair which is why LLL is heading down to the Vicente Calderón to see yet more carnage. Two weeks ago, Atlético lost at at home to Valencia amid much boo-age and sigh-age from the home crowd who called for the head of co-owner Miguel Angel Gil.

The son of Jesús Gil was in the news again this week, after he responded to claims from opposition supporters group Señales de Humo that the club’s debt is a worryingly high €782m. Gil responded at a media breakfast – which sounds fun, but not as fun as it could have been had the bubbly ‘morning person’ LLL been invited – that the debt is between €185m and €250m, depending on when the accounting snapshot is taken.

Gil also mused over the possibilities of the club informing season ticket holders of the future plans for the team in regards to purchases and sales before the annual renewal of their membership schemes. LLL Prediction – Home win (vamos Atleti!)

Espanyol (6th) v Real Sociedad (8th)With former Perico and hamster-cheeked goal-getter Raúl Tamudo returning to face his old team wearing the shirt of Real Sociedad, here’s a special weekend-preview guest appearance from Paul from Barcelona, who will be in the stands in Prat-land to witness Tamudo’s return. Woot, woot!

“The return of the prodigal son. The top goalscorer in Espanyol’s history and the most prolific Catalan in la Liga history will receive a fantastic welcome on Saturday. Tamudo is much loved amongst pericos. On his day he was unmarkable. On his bad days he was unremarkable.

"Much-hated across the city for scoring [rude word omitted – LLL]loads of goals against them, which endears him to us even more. Despite being a bit of a plonker off the field (let’s be honest, you wouldn’t want David Villa in your pub-quiz team), on the pitch he could be a genius.

"Expect a hero’s return, banners, chants, the works but expect him to score the winner. Don’t think he will celebrate, though: 129 goals for Espanyol, five goals for Spain in 13 matches is as good as anyone. Remember this was in some poor Espanyol and Spain teams. He holds a unique record. Two Copa del Rey finals and he scored in the first two minutes of both of them.

"Welcome home, Raul. I, for one, will give him a standing ovation.” – Paul, BarcelonaLLL Prediction – Home win

Mallorca (11th) v Barcelona (1st)With prickly Víctor Valdés set for a spell of shouting and ranting on the sidelines for up to six weeks with knee-knack, it’s time for stand-in goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto to have his time in the spotlight for Pep’s Dream Boys.

However, the former Celta man has already made a name for himself this season having been booked twice for doing impressions of the referee’s whistle – Pinto himself claims he was merely practicing his bird impressions, although LLL might be lying at this point – and for a spell of sporting braids.

As Pinto is going to be a fixture in the side for a while, it’s time for the Barça press to do some butt-kissing over the Andalusian newcomer. Ã¢Â€ÂœPep doesn’t doubt him,” soothed Joan Vehils in Sport. “Knowing that Pep likes players like Iniesta, without piercings, with nice short hair and without tattoos, it seems wrong that Guardiola backs Pinto now. But Guardiola is on top of everything and this is how good people are treated.”LLL Prediction – Away win

Deportivo (13th) v Real Madrid (2nd)The big debate in the Madrid papers has been over the usual frailties and nervousness shown by their side in the Lyon Champions League clash. Not really. That would be silly. For Marca, it’s all been about the rough treatment given to precious Cristiano in Tuesday’s game – no, LLL didn’t notice anything untoward either – and in AS the discussion is over whether Florentino Pérez was right to jump up and applaud Karim Benzema’s goal.

LLL is a happy chappy in general and says good luck to the old, stinkingly rich fella, but there are those who feel that the presidential zone in stadiums should be set aside for quiet contemplation only. AS editor Alfredo Relaño is one of that morose band of brothers. “We feel it’s best that it had been avoided, I’m sure he feels the same,” mused the killjoy king. LLL Prediction – Away win

SUNDAY

Hércules (15th) v Getafe (10th) "Peeeeeep!" "Penalty!" That’s been a familiar sound at Getafe matches this season, with the Coliseum club being more than a little untidy in their own box – as it were – and giving away too many spot-kicks. It happened again last weekend against Racing Santander, Iván Marcano bringing down his man late in the game and the Madrid side losing 1-0.

"Nine penalties in 24 matches is a lot,” admitted Míchel the manager. “The majority were penalties, though. That’s one every three games. What’s more, none of them have been saved and we’ve dropped points.”LLL Prediction – Away win (but it could be anything with Getafe)

Levante (17th) v Osasuna (14th)LLL collective! Remember the Cristiano Ronaldo v Walter Pandiani spat from a few weeks back? No? Really? The one where the Madrid player asked how much Pandiani earned during a half-time tiff? The scuffle where the Osasuna man said that Ronaldo should stop being such a chav and be more like Messi? Yes, that one.

Well, things kicked off again this week during an interview with the Uruguayan forward who took the time to reflect on the incident a few weeks later with a cool head... and then suggest that there might have been fisticuffs after Ronaldo’s comments in another time and another place.

“In my country he’d have had to have booked a dentist appointment,” noted Pandiani with a cheeky grin, LLL likes to think. LLL Prediction – Draw

Racing Santander (12th) v Villarreal (4th)If LLL knew that the Europa League was so darn thrilling, it might not have been too cool for school and thumbed its nose at it for all these years. Villarreal’s second-leg match against Napoli (the first ended goalless) had thrills, spills, comebacks, diving and a 2-1 win for Villarreal to send the Yellow Submarine to the next round at the expense of the Italian interlopers.

“It was the moment to show that the team believed in itself and was together,” boasted Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido.LLL Prediction – Away win

Athletic Bilbao (5th) v Valencia (3rd)LLL’s very favourite thing about Spain, Joaquín Caparrós, has been chatting away about his lovely life as Athletic manager and his immediate future. The Bilbao boss says he would be delighted to stay on for a few more years in San Mamés but that it all depends on whether current president Fernando García Macau wins a new election in the summer.

Aside from shouting from the touchline and generally larking about like a loon during games, Caparrós is also keeping himself busy with a journalism degree and is having a lot of fun whilst doing it, too. “I’m 55 and I love being with kids and learning every day.”LLL Prediction – Home win

MONDAY

Málaga (20th) v Almería (19th)Heaven’s handcart! A Monday night match that might be worth watching! Bottom of the table Málaga facing their last, last, last chance to pick up three points and get themselves out of their expensively dug relegation hole against the side nestling in second-from-bottom above them.LLL Prediction – Home win

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