La Liga’s Big Three Finals of the Weekend

LLL imagines that when the sixty-or-so million Euros were pumped into Málaga over the summer, the club’s Qatari owners weren’t expecting the dreaded talk of ‘finals’ steaming into view as early as October.

But that’s the kind of crazy talk that the hamster-cheeked Santi Cazorla kicked off this week in light of Málaga’s horrendous 2-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday – the club’s third loss in a row without a single goal being scored.

“It’s more than a final in terms of the state of the spirit of the team,” revealed the forward ahead of the southern side’s Sunday night visit from Espanyol, a team who beat Betis on Thursday with their third consecutive 1-0 victory, apparently channeling Dull Deportivo (from back when the Galicians were half-decent).

But big-spending Málaga are in excellent company, having being joined in the doo-doo by the big-spending Atlético Madrid. The Rojiblancos are living up to all expectations this season by failing to live up to all expectations this season. Once you get to spend quality time with Atlético, that will all make sense.

On Thursday night, Gregorio Manzano’s men continued a fine run of form – five winless league games no away goals all season. Atlético’s latest disaster was a 3-0 loss at the rapidly improving Athletic Bilbao, leaving the manager’s position in some jeopardy, especially since Manzano has just got the backing of club president Enrique Cerezo.

“We keep on thinking that we have a great manager. To think anything else doesn’t make sense," said Cerezo, clearly unaware of his club's history of nonsense. "Neither Manzano nor anyone else is in danger for us. What we have to do is raise the spirits of the team.”

Atlético, who these days are just as poor in the Vicente Calderón as on the road, will be hosting Real Zaragoza in what has to be a beautifully wrapped gift of a chance for a comfortable crowd-pleasing home win on Sunday evening.

Villarreal’s week turned from bad to Arizmendi in just five days. It started off horrendously on Sunday with a 3-0 home defeat to Levante. Juan Carlos Garrido’s side followed up that performance with a hopeless display on Wednesday with a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid.

A day later it was announced that Giuseppe Rossi is set to be out for up to six months with a knee ligament damage, joining Sergio Canales and Carlos Gurpegui in this week's Terrible Injury News Club.

Rather like Málaga and Atlético Madrid, Villarreal do have what should be an easy chance to bounce back with the visit of Rayo Vallecano, who are now in the lofty heights of ninth after back-to-back wins against Betis and Málaga.

League leaders Levante – LLL still gets a tingly kick out of writing that – will be looking to continuing living the dream of the poor, old and miserable (including the blog) by traveling to Osasuna, from where it is almost impossible to come away with three points.

So that will probably leave Real Madrid at the top of the table after the weekend is over, considering the forces of Mordor will be descending on San Sebastian to face Real Sociedad, who are not very good at all these days. Plucky Barcelona will be building on the side’s feisty 1-0 win at Granada by hosting Mallorca at the Camp Nou in what should be the non-taxing football equivalent of... er... playing Mallorca at the Camp Nou. 

Round 11 mini-predictionsSevilla v Granada – Home winBarcelona v Mallorca – Home winSporting v Athletic – Away winAtlético Madrid v Zaragoza – Home winValencia v Getafe – DrawOsasuna v Levante – Home win Real Sociedad v Real Madrid – Away winVillarreal v Rayo Vallecano – Home winMálaga v Espanyol – Home winRacing Santander v Betis – Away win