La Preview: Gauntlet thrown to Barca, as Koke reveals Atletico’s weight-watchers walk of shame

Atletico are slimming down, Real Madrid face a potential banana skin and there's been some bizarre baby-naming as Tim Stannard previews the weekend in Spain... 

These are always the fun weeks. With just the one Primera side playing in the Champions League and interest still middling in Spain for the Europa League - three Spanish teams should progress - there is plenty of space for all the weirdness to ooze out, perhaps topped by the story concerning the name of a Granada midfielder's new baby. It was that kind of week. 

Getafe strike first blow ahead of Camp Nou clash 

Getafe’s ardent press corp - hello to both of you by the way - have been waiting since Halloween for the return fixture of Barcelona.
 
Not only will the match-up at the Camp Nou provide defeat number eight in nine games for the Coliseum crusaders to get their journalistic teeth into, but it will be an opportunity to relive the moment when a group of masked Barcelona players accidentally gate-crashed a Getafe post-match press conference before legging it outside and allegedly trashing the dressing room bathrooms, back in October. 

Heck, Getafe club president Angel Torres hasn't forgotten what happened and is pulling out the big guns in revenge for the lack of respect. "I won't be attending the customary club lunch on Saturday,” boomed Torres, pulling out the stops. Ouch.
 
Barcelona v Getafe - Saturday 10.00 CET

Big-boned battlers banned on Simeone’s slimming ship 

It sounds like Atlético Madrid’s HR department is very lenient indeed, if the confessions from Antoine Griezmann and Koke on a Spanish TV entertainment show are true.
 
Chuckling away on El Hormiguero, the pair revealed that the every Atletico Madrid player is weighed every day. “If you’ve put on any weight, then you have to tell everyone around you,” revealed Koke. “If you’ve put on a kilo, then you have to tell the whole team.”
 
“Simeone doesn’t like fatties,” joked Griezmann, shattering the dreams of Maniche picking up his playing boots back at the Vicente Calderón. 

Griezmann

Griezmann: avoiding putting on the pounds

The French footballer also revealed that the days of his whacky hairdos are behind him, as he's to become a father for the first time. “I don’t want the first thing my daughter sees to be a mohawk or a blond rinse.”

I don’t want the first thing my daughter sees to be a mohawk or a blond rinse

- Antoine Griezmann

Instead, Griezmann-baby will see an outstanding footballer whose 15 goals in La Liga have helped propel Atlético to just one league defeat in seven, to keep a distance of four points from Real Madrid.
 
That rampant run of form should continue on Saturday with Atleti hosting a rather depressed, dilapidated Deportivo team that have not won in La Primera in 14 and are set to be without top scorer, Lucas Pérez, through injury. 
 
Atlético Madrid v Deportivo - Saturday 20.30 CET

Danger in the air for homesick Madrid

Real Madrid are flaky enough away from home on continental Spain, never mind on a group of volcanic outcrops called the Canary Islands

Sunday’s hefty trip south to the coast of west Africa to take on Las Palmas has a huge whiff of danger for Real Madrid, who are flaky enough away from home on continental Spain, never mind on a group of volcanic outcrops called the Canary Islands. 
 
Indeed, the last time the two played each other in the home of Las Palmas, the Canary Islanders came away with a 4-2 win. It’s a match that Coach Zizou will remember all too well, as he not only played in it but got on the score-sheet. 

Alvaro Arbeloa should be making the trip and has been in the side columns for discussing his less than friendly relationship with fellow Spanish teammate, Gerard Piqué, but didn't  want to give all the juicy details. "I could explain to the world why I am not Pique's friend, but maybe he would not be in a good way if I did that,” sighed the fullback in an interview. Thumbscrews time. 
 
Las Palmas v Real Madrid - Sunday 20.30 CEST

Málaga’s forgotten Memo returns to La Rosaleda 

Football life didn’t quite go to plan for Mexican goalkeeper Memo Ochoa. One of the stars of the last World Cup, Ochoa was out of contract and had the pick of his clubs. Málaga was the chosen side, a move was made, and that was pretty much the last anyone saw of Ochoa aside from the odd outings in the Copa del Rey and friendlies. 

The imperious Carlos Kameni has been the preferred number one for Málaga, leaving the Mexican without a single minute of La Liga action until last weekend, when a knee injury for the Cameroon keeper saw Ochoa playing the remaining 53 minutes of the game, but conceding three goals along the way. 
 
With a stretch between the sticks expected to last six weeks, Ochoa decided to speak to the press for the first time since his presentation on Wednesday, and said that he had no thoughts of leaving despite his bench-sitting existence. “When you find an obstacle, there is nothing to do but work hard.” 

Ochoa

Mexico's Ochoa finally has a chance to make an impression with Malaga

Ochoa’s home debut in La Liga comes against Sporting on Friday. Conceding three more, probably won’t be a good idea, or the Mexican’s disappearance could be just as rapid as his resurrection. 
 
Málaga v Sporting - Friday 20.30 CET

Modric’s father stars in must-win match for Granada 

There are many fine, noble names in Spain for a wee baby - José, Rafa, Pep or even Xxtoosssxxxxttiet, for those up in the Basque Country. But Granada midfielder Javi Márquez has caused a bit of a curious stir in the land of ham by naming his son ‘Modric’. 
 
“My wife likes him,” explained the Granada man, “besides, he’s a great footballer and seems like a great guy.” Little Modric Márquez’s father will have to wait until Monday to work on his other preoccupation at the moment - avoiding relegation.

Luka Modric

Luka Modric: So good even his opponents are naming children after him

A recent revival for Granada of back-to-back wins under new manager, José González, was ended at Betis last week with a 2-0 defeat. 
 
Granada v Espanyol - Monday 20.30 CEST
 
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