La Preview: Barça’s “grotesque” stunt, more managerial movement and a send-off for San Mamés


Getafe (10th) v Rayo Vallecano (8th) Rayo still have sneaky hopes for a European place, although all things considered that might be a waste of time. The club had their licence application to play in next season’s competition turned down by UEFA, to due stipulations on debts held to other clubs, footballers or employees – of which Rayo have one or two. Or three. Or a hundred. Who knows.

An appeal is being lodged of a legal and accounting nature, which means La Liga Loca is unlikely to understand what’s going on exactly. However, the club’s arguments are that the debts in question relate to before before Rayo went into administration in June 2011, and thus cannot be considered as due for payment immediately. LLL isn't sure how that's going to fly with the Zurich beancounters, who will be cheering on Getafe in this match just to make their lives a little easier. LLL Prediction – Home win

Valencia (5th) v Granada (15th)The season will be over in a week, but the fight will continue in Mestalla in a big battle for the control of the club’s future and all that. A board meeting is set to take place at the beginning of June to choose a new president, what with the post currently being vacant. The candidate for the Valencia Foundation – a group of leading shareholders – is set to be Amadeo Salvo, who gave a presentation on Monday on his view of the future of the club.

One of Salvo's big aims is to stop wasting so much money on footballers, for starters. “We’ve got €40 million in players that sit on the bench and now we can’t get €15 million for them,” complained the potential Mestalla messiah. One promise made is that there would be no sale of Roberto Soldado, Jonas and Ever Banega this summer, although LLL suspects an awful lot will depend on whether Valencia can pick up that fourth Champions League spot by winning their final two games and hoping Real Sociedad slip up. LLL Prediction – Home win

Osasuna (16th) v Sevilla (9th)What seemed like an smart idea at the time certainly proved to be a bad one at the end of Sevilla’s home defeat to Real Sociedad last Saturday. When the footballers left the pitch there was quite the booing from unsympathetic supporters, except they were drowned out by the club’s anthem being blasted out over the stadium sound system.

What some might consider censorship caused Sevilla president José Maria del Nido to publish an apology on the team’s website on Monday. “As the person most responsible [at Sevilla] I agree it was not handled well. Sevilla fans are free to show, with respect, whatever opinion they want, especially in their own home.” Expect further naughty noises in Pamplona on Sunday from travelling Sevilla fans who may well see the completion of a league record: one victory in 19 away games. LLL Prediction – Home win

Real Sociedad (4th) v Real Madrid (1st) And so the announcement was made that the manager will be departing at the end of the season after months of gossip and gallivanting, and the footballers are just supposed to carry on as if nothing has happened. That’s the situation faced by Real Sociedad for this huge game against Real Madrid, who are also set to lose their boss José Mourinho, apparently.

Philippe Montanier will be managing Rennes next season having been offered a three-year deal, reportedly a much improved arrangement that the one facing the Frenchman in San Sebastian, where the fans and local media never really took to him despite the side's success.

One man sad to see the manager go is Iñigo Martínez, who admitted that “his departure is painful. I’m always going to be grateful and he bet on me from the first match of last season.”LLL Prediction – Home win

Málaga (6th) v Deportivo (17th)Another LLL prediction bites the dust: the forecast that Manuel Pellegrini wouldn't announce his departure from Málaga until the end of the season. That all went out the window on Wednesday when the Chilean admitted at a local institutional event that “professionally, I’m experiencing my last days with Málaga.”

Pellegrini also wanted to note that it wasn’t a happy departure from a city and club that he genuinely loves, revealing that “I’m not looking for economic ambitions but a sporting project that will allow me to feel fulfilled.”LLL Prediction – Home win

Espanyol (11th) v Barcelona (1st)Those readers who have pottered around Barcelona will know there is a statue of Christopher Columbus at the lower end of La Rambla, pointing off into the distance. Indeed, many may have had their pockets picked whilst gazing at it. That statue currently sports the shirt of Barça to celebrate the league title win. So of course, Espanyol have thrown their chips out of the window in outrage.

The local council allowed a publicity company hired by Nike to do the deed and Perico president Joan Collet is fuming and then some. “Grotesque, disgraceful and ridiculous,” yelled the top man in El Prat-land, thumbing through his council rule-book. “There’s nothing that can justify it, what’s more it breaks a local order which bans publicity on buildings, cemeteries...”LLL Prediction – Away win

Valladolid (13th) v Celta Vigo (20th)The bottom-of-the-table outfit have spent the past fortnight busying themselves with moaning about referees. With no game last weekend due to Atlético Madrid’s involvement in the Copa del Rey final, the Celta camp looked at the man in the middle as a big cause of the season’s struggles. “We’ve only had two penalties all year and we haven’t played a game all season with numerical superiority,” moaned midfielder, Borja Oubiña.

At least goalkeeper Javi Varas is talking about Sunday’s big game, saying that this is the proper, proper, proper ‘final’ for the club. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking about finals but the true final is this one because if we don’t win we could be done with La Liga.”LLL Prediction – Away win

Atlético Madrid (3rd) v Mallorca (19th)What better way to escape what has largely been a rainy, miserable Madrid and celebrate a cup final win than with a five-day jaunt to Singapore? Actually, there are probably better methods of having fun in locations with considerably laxer penal systems – always useful when footballers are involved – but Singapore is where the money was for the Rojiblancos in a series of meet-and-greets and a friendly to boot.

All the time this was going on, growing speculation pointed Falcao away from the Vicente Calderón and potentially to Monaco. Helpfully, the clubo’s director general Miguel Ángel Gil Marin beamed that “we’ll support him in any decision he makes.” LLL isn't entirely sure that the ‘he’ in that statement wasn’t referring to the player’s agent Jorge Mendes. LLL Prediction – Away win

Real Betis (7th) v Zaragoza (18th)If Zaragoza could sign just the one footballer for Sunday’s match it wouldn’t be Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – actually, it probably would – but instead Ander Herrera. The former Zaragoza midfielder was distraught after his Athletic Bilbao side beat Zaragoza last weekend and lamented that “Zaragocistas don’t deserve this. This club has given me everything: I first came when I was four, I’ve travelled with the team, I’ve seen finals, I cried at the Bernabéu after losing to Espanyol [in the 2006 Copa del Rey final]. I see the reputation Zaragoza has now and it really hurts. We can’t carry on every year, getting to the last 10 games in this situation and looking for a miracle.” LLL Prediction – Home win

Athletic Bilbao (12th) v Levante (14th)Well that’s all very depressing. The final league match to be played in San Mamés by Athletic Bilbao is against Levante, of all teams. Party time ahoy! Fortunately, there's going to be another chance to wave a fond farewell to a wonderful stadium with an exhibition match between Athletic Bilbao and a Bizcaya XI, to keep the goodbye a local affair for local people. The Levante clash may also see the final match in San Mamés – should he be picked – for Fernando Amorebieta, who has signed for four years for Fulham. LLL Prediction – Home win