Andalusians could knock Catalans off their course for the La Liga crown, writes Tim Stannard...
The accelerated process of rare midweek La Liga action certainly accelerated the demise of Deportivo boss Víctor Fernández, who was relieved of his duties after a home draw with Córdoba that only owed itself to a late own goal.
The club have already appointed a replacement, Víctor Sánchez, and the former player faces a bit of a northern affair this weekend against a Real Sociedad side that froze against Atlético in their own bit of midweek mayhem.
This clash is just one of 10 tasty tussles coming up in a four-day spell. One of those games is set to be a pivotal away day for the league leaders if they're to become champions in a few weeks' time.
Will Barcelona get one hand on title in Seville?
The 4-0 victory against Almería for Barcelona was rather unremarkable – ignoring the remarkable goals – and what was to be expected in the Camp Nou for a confident team at the top of the table.
However, matters may not be as cushy against a Sevilla side enjoying a rich vein of form, having forced their way into the Champions League reckoning after five straight wins.
Fortunately for Barca fans who may be a little concerned about the encounter, there is the elephant in the room that concerns Sevilla when matches matter most. The Andalusian sides tend to lose them. In the realm of the Sánchez Pizjuán posse, the chicken dance is one that is performed on a regular basis.
Should another choke be on the horizon or Barcelona quite simply win fair and square, then a massive step would have been taken on the path to regaining the league title. Last weekend’s away day at Celta was quite the test for Luis Enrique’s outfit.
Sevilla vs Barcelona - Saturday 20.00 CET
Who's LLL going to be annoyed at next?
LLLthought it was going to miss the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo this weekend for the visit of Eibar. That was until the Portuguese Man of Pwoar’s yellow card for 'simulation' was rightfully rescinded, so he can carry on bullying people and get on with his life again.
But still, what the blog is longing for is yet another reason to find Ronaldo immensely irritating, and to tweet something mean to be considered a hater by strange supporters from around the world.
In Real Madrid’s 9-1 win against Granada, LLL was profoundly annoyed at the pompous way Ronaldo celebrated the team’s ninth goal of the game. Have a little bit of sympathy for the poor, beleaguered visitors and perhaps shake a few hands sheepishly instead.
In the 2-0 victory against the mighty Rayo – a proper team, no offence Granada – Ronaldo deserved a penalty for being upended, but his reaction really was akin to a two-year-old having a wail. It’s a wonder the other players didn’t just leave him to thrash around for 10 minutes until he'd cried himself out.
At some point, someone else will need to carry the irritability can for LLL and keep it entertained. Oh for Angel Di María to still be dressed in the white of Madrid.
Real Madrid vs Eibar: Saturday 16.00 CET
Can Eibar avoid cannon-fodder fate?
Well that looks an awful lot better. Eibar’s first win in a whopping 12 games has put the skids on a worrying slide down the table. Málaga did its duty for all the neutrals in La Liga Land by being the fall guys in a 1-0 defeat that puts Eibar a handy six points above the relegation zone (seven, if Almería are eventually stripped of three points for a FIFA punishment after a non-payment of debt). “All these months of working has reaped its reward,” announced a relieved Eibar coach Gaizka Garitano.
The victory was rather timely as the next clash for Eibar is a visit to the Santiago Bernabéu, which may be less fertile ground than the Basque Country, considering what happened to Granada last weekend.
Real Madrid vs Eibar - Saturday 18.00 CET
Can Atlético stay in their sweet spot?
There is something almost spiritual about Atlético when they are in this sort of consistent mood. The last three wins have been by the very best. Tuesday’s clash against Real Sociedad was wrapped up after 10 minutes with a 2-0 win. On Saturday, the Rojiblancos took a little longer to reach the magic 2-0 point, 39 minutes. But at least that was a slight improvement on the 2-0 win versus Getafe. Sloppiness there.
All in all, Atlético Madrid are a tremendously labour-saving club in that when Diego Simeone’s men find their groove and loll about in it, there is only a need to watch the first halves of their games. LLL has a feeling that may be the case again on Saturday afternoon at Málaga.
Málaga vs Atlético Madrid - Saturday 18.00 CET
Will Valencia stop slump against Levante?
Well, that worked out well. LLL puts its faith in Valencia to end the season pushing for second place and they come back with just two points from six. Now the Mestalla men face a serious challenge from Sevilla for fourth spot, with Atlético having formed a three-point cushion above.
While the goalless draw against Villarreal was a fairly flat affair, Valencia do have reason to be irked by the dropped points in the final second at San Mamés, after the referee awarded a goal to the home side despite Aritz Aduriz being quite offside. “He took two points off us,” fumed Nuno, the irate Valencia coach.
Levante may well bear the brunt of this inner fury from the bearded barn-stormer, who fumed: “If there is someone who doesn’t want Valencia to reach its objectives, then they are not going to stop us. This anger is just going to make us stronger.” For once the Monday night affair is going to be very worth watching.
Valencia vs Levante - Monday 20.30 CET