La Preview: European euphoria, succession crises and pocket change


Getafe (11th) v Mallorca (12th) – 18.00 local timeOne of the coaches being linked with Unai Emery's job – the whiteboard-loving Valencia boss has apparently told his players he’s off in the summer; more on that later – is Luis García, despite having been in the Getafe job for a single season. For the most part it was a successful campaign, with Getafe only wobbling a little at the start. This builds on a season in the city of Valencia last year which saw the launch of the mighty Levante.

LLL senses that the backwater life of Getafe may not be suiting García, especially with the Team Dubai money apparently gone, and that there may be some ship-jumping sooner rather than later – especially considering the manager’s thoughts on where his current team belongs in the universe. “I’ve always said that Getafe’s place is in between eighth and 12th,” said García, who may soon be opining that the perfect position for third-placed Valencia is third place. LLL Prediction – Home win

Levante (5th) v Granada (16th) – 18.00The blog is a little concerned that at the end of a fine campaign Levante might end up with nothing at all – never mind a Champions League place, which was always a big ask. They need a whopping win on Saturday if they aren’t to slip out of the European places, with Athletic, Atlético, Osasuna and Sevilla all able to catch them if things go badly.

The fans have recognised that the players need a bit of a boost in the final spurt and have launched the “We are dreaming of Europe” campaign to back the team both home and away for the four remaining games. LLL Prediction – Home win

Espanyol (10th) v Sporting (19th) – 18.00As well as in Levante, there’s also been a European rallying call in Perico-land, with pretty much half the league still in with a chance of continental footie next season. Espanyol are three points off the top six and should feel good about closing the gap against a very doomed Sporting. “I have absolute confidence in this group and would bet that we’re going to be in Europe,” said a perky Mauricio Pochettino. “Let’s see if we can get about 10 points, although in the end this might not be enough.”LLL Prediction – Home win

Real Sociedad (14th) v Racing Santander (20th) – 18.00Double jeopardy or something like that! A win for Real Sociedad on Saturday would both mathematically secure another Primera year for la Real and also send Racing down to la Segunda. Excitement!LLL Prediction – Home win

Villarreal (17th) v Osasuna (8th) – 22.00It’s been a pretty fine campaign for Osasuna all around, free of the usual relegation scrapes which have been a frequent feature for the Pamplona club. Club president Patxi Izco has decided that this would be a perfect time to step down after 10 years, setting up elections in a month or so. “There are mental and physical reasons, there’s my family and I think it’s a good decision,” explained the weary club president. “I prefer to go before I’m kicked out. What’s more, I’m tired.” LLL shares his pain. LLL Prediction – Home win


Real Madrid (1st) v Sevilla (9th) – 12.00Want to talk about the defeat? Nope? Can’t say LLL blames you – penalties are never fun – so let’s chat instead to the Sevilla camp, who travelled to Sunday’s match as early as Thursday to avoid their own city’s April Fair, which has been known to lead players astray. When asked why the squad are being yanked out of the city so early, Jesús Navas admitted that “I can see why, I’m not much for going to the Fair.”

Meanwhile, Sevilla president José María del Nido said that his side can take a certain English team’s performance against Barcelona as a way of beating Madrid on Saturday: “A poor Chelsea in football terms has knocked Barça from the Champions League; why can’t Sevilla be capable of winning in Madrid?” Because one side can defend and the other can’t?LLL Prediction – Home win 

Real Zaragoza (18th) v Athletic Bilbao (6th) – 16.00At last! Luis García finally appears during what has been an underwhelming season at Zaragoza. The former Espanyol forward has been out drumming up optimism around the city that Zaragoza can stay up, which is quaint to see. “You can definitely save yourselves with four wins,” announced García, “because Villarreal, Granada and another team will mess up. Our first game against Athletic is fundamental and will an important step if we win.” Fortunately for García and his team, Sunday’s opposition may be feeling a little lethargic after a somewhat strenuous Thursday night.LLL Prediction – Home win

Málaga (4th) v Valencia (3rd) – 18.00Unai has reportedly told his players in the dressing room that this will be his final season in Mestalla. No great surprise there. This has kicked off rumours over who will replace the manager and then spend a joyful season or three being booed by supporters for achieving exactly what he was supposed to achieve with the club.

As previously mentioned, Getafe’s Luis García is a possible candidate and so is former Espanyol boss Ernesto Valverde, who has been having quite a lot of success in Greece with Olympiacos and is set to be leaving at the end of the season. Other names being bandied about include Didier Deschamps and Joaquín Caparrós, which LLL would love to see. LLL Prediction – Home win

Betis (13th) v Atlético Madrid (7th) – 19.45Real Madrid and Barcelona may have let their country and themselves down with their midweek European knockout, but Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao did king and country proud with a double win to set up an all-Spanish final – so we can find out who's the best side in Europe who will finish about sixth in their league.

Naturally, this achievement sees the Atlético players reaching full marks on Diego Simeone’s ‘Hombre-o-meter’ for footballing manliness. “They put in an enormous effort for the directors who have had confidence in us and for the people who are today proud of Atlético Madrid,” said the bullish Rojiblanco coach. LLL Prediction – Draw

Rayo Vallecano (15th) v Barcelona (1st) – 21.45If Barcelona lose to Rayo after Madrid have beaten Sevilla, the champions will lose their crown. Not that Rayo fans have any interest in the Catalans' trials and tribulations – they have a couple of preoccupations of their own. The first is needing three more points to ensure safety; the second is the ongoing war with the team’s directors, who have called for another “Day of the Club”, which sees season ticket holders having to pay an extra €20 to see the Barcelona match.

Although ideas such as arriving late, leaving early, or going in and back out again have been thrown about, the fan group ADRV came up with the great idea to pay for the €20 ticket in loose change, although the club responded by claiming that they don’t have to accept more than 50 coins for a single payment. LLL Prediction – Away win