The Great Weekend Preview - Round 33
SaturdayBarcelona (2nd) v Espanyol (8th)It's the "derby of depression" according to AS with the faces of both sets of fans longer than Ruud Van Nistelrooy in a hall of mirrors. The pessimistic pericos decided to take action against their failing footballers this week by unveiling a thesaurus-inspired banner at the Espanyol training ground calling for "pride, honour, courage, effort, fight, valor, force... what don't you understand?"Meanwhile, over in the Kingdom of Catalunya Deco has raged against the media-machine which have accused him of being a workshy party-boy, quarantined by the club lest his virility-virus spread to the rest of the squad. "I strongly deny everything," hiccuped the MIA midfielder from a beach bar in Sitges.
Deco: Unimpressed with media accusations
AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid (4th) v Betis (13th)After eight months of swearing and a'snarling, limping and a'lounging, JosÃÂ© Antonio Reyes has finally decided to start the season properly, what with there being only six matches left. But compared to last year, when the whining winger opted for playing just the last half an hour of the campaign, it's some improvement. "The fans are now starting to see the true Reyes," boasted the moaning mummy's boy, who claims that he is nearly at 100%.However, this apparent return to form is unlikely to make the midfielder bosom buddies with his boss anytime soon. "It's true that we're not friends, but our relationship is normal," admitted Reyes as he finished scribbling his 500 lines handed out for looking at Javier Aguirre a bit funny.
Home win. Zaragoza (18th) v Recreativo (17th)Happy days for Zaragoza. Having started the season in the UEFA cup, the club's future in the Primera could be done and dusted if they lose to Recreativo on Saturday night. "If we lose against them it will be tough for us to stay in the Primera," admitted Gabi this week. And that was before the news filtered out that Diego Milito is set to be out for the weekend's crucial clash.
Home win. Sevilla (6th) v AlmerÃÂa (7th)Despite looking a little like a munchkin, La Liga Loca can ensure the good readers of FourFourTwo that, Sevilla president, JosÃÂ© Maria del Nido cuts quite a scary figure up close, mainly due to the reputation he earned from being the legal eagle to the likes of Jesus Gil. And that's why both Luis Fabiano and Dani Alves should be looking over their shoulder, under their duvet and in their shoes for the next few weeks as the Don of Sevilla is not a perky pressie. This comes after, Fabiano's agent, JosÃÂ© Fuentes branded Manolo JimÃÂ©nez "incompetent" for substituting his client last weekend and Dani Alves hitched his skirt up a little in Barcelona's direction by claiming that: "it would be amazing to play for them. A luxury."
"Whoever disrespects the club will be made to pay," growled del Nido in his best Brando impression on Thursday in response to the week's war of words. "It's ok to think of yourself, but I won't allow it to distract the group," he promised.
Home win. SundayVillarreal (3rd) v Valladolid (16th)Still sulking. Home win. If they can be bothered. Levante (20th) v Getafe (12th)It's been another high-fiving, happy-go-lucky week in the life of lowly Levante. Just days after Gianni di Biasi returned across the Med to take on the task of Torino, the players have announced they will be going on strike next weekend if they are not paid what they are due. "We've come to the conclusion that we have to fight for ourselves," said club captain Luis Manuel Rubiales advising that they will be downing their footballing tools against Recreativo in the next round of action.
Getafe: Aiming to bounce back after Copa del Rey disappointment
Osasuna (14th) v Deportivo (9th)Spain's answer to Simon Cowell caused a bit of a tizz and a fizz this week in the country's version of Pop Idol.When one of the contestants dropped out of the contest due to her grandmother popping her clogs the sunglass-wearing Risto Mejide told the remaining participants: "I ask if anyone else wants to leave the academy, if someone else has to do some business, has their car badly parked, or if their canary, dog, grandfather or whoever has died."And that's exactly the kind of rousing rant Osasuna nut-job Cuco Ziganda will be giving to his Pamplonan players to inspire them to get the three points that should keep their Primera position for another year.
Home win. Murcia (19th) v Mallorca (11th)After a week in the media maelstrom, Murcia manager Javier Clemente has refused to go meekly back into the footballing shadows. On Tuesday, his players received a tongue-lashing to rival anything Belen Esteban could offer by telling his players that: "In Madrid, some of you sh*t yourselves. They were down to 10 men."
"Do you really want to save yourselves", yelled Clemente in full earshot of the man from AS. No coincidence there, claims the paper.
Draw. Racing Santander (5th) v Real Madrid (1st)Ronaldinho's supposedly imminent move to Milan has got Marca very excited indeed. And that's because they reckon that Kaka will be on his way to the Spanish capital in the summer as his 'I belong to Jesus', bible-bashing ways will be incompatible with those of the party-popping arrival. Marca point out the chasm-like character differences of the two players claiming that "like a good Brazilian, Ronaldinho prefers the samba to work". In another outrageously offensive stereotype, Marca's Roberto Gomez has poo-pooed the possible arrival of Klaas Jan Huntelaar by arguing that: "another Dutchman would form a 'tulip clan' that would not be beneficial to the dressing room." Of course another Brazilian who "prefers the samba to work" would be fine should Luis Fabiano be signed up, says Gomez.
Huntelaar: Joining Real would only help create a 'tulip clan'
Athletic Bilbao (10th) v Valencia (15th)Those charmless chancers running Valencia manage to get more despicable by the day. Rather than ridding themselves of Ronald Koeman at the end of the season as reward for his Copa del Rey win, the talk in the Spanish press is that the Dutchman will be packing his clogs - as Marca would probably put it - on Sunday night if his team fail to beat Athletic. Whats more, Valencia are also considering fining CaÃÂ±izares, Angulo and Albeda for their collective failure to attend Wednesday's final in an official club capacity - although the latter was there doing a radio commentary.
Home win. You can catch Tim Stannard in punditry action on Real Madrid TV's 'Extra Time' at 22.05 UK time on Sky digial 446 - and repeated throughout the weekend.