La Preview: Ignoring Athletic, a Sacking in Santander and Rocking Rayo.


Málaga (5th) v Levante (4th) - 18.00 (all KOs local time)It’s high time for LLL to stick its head around the door at fourth-placed Levante to see if there's any talk of Europe yet, rather than of simply escaping relegation. The swift answer is ‘nope’. “Sometimes we forget that we are just Levante,” said ever modest coach, Juan Ignacio Martínez, when the words ‘Champions League’ were uttered in his presence up. LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Sociedad (13th) v Zaragoza (20th) - 18.00Have €100 million or so to pour away into a giant financial black hole of a football club? Then go purchase the Segunda-bound Real Zaragoza, as that’s the sort of amount needed to take over the club and cover its debt. Owner/President/Meddler-in-Chief Agapito Iglesias has taken the hint from the fans - who hate his guts - and announced that he can be bought out by anyone with more money than sense. LLL Prediction - Home win

Sporting (19th) v Sevilla (10th) - 20.00José Antonio Reyes appears to have found his Atlético Madrid form already, despite only moving back to home town club Sevilla just a month or so ago. The problem there is that form is a little bit pants. Still, one great man of Spanish football, Joaquín Caparrós, who used to manage the midfielder back in his own Sevilla days, has come out in defence of a footballer who continues to rub fans up the wrong way. “Of all the footballers I’ve had, I’ve never seen anyone do the things that Reyes does, apart from Leo Messi. He is strong, technical, a real football talent. I’m sure that he’ll be back to the Reyes that he was at the start,” soothed the Mallorca manager. LLL Prediction - Away win

Betis (12th) v Real Madrid (1st) - 22.00It was all very touching, really. Once upon on time - about a year and a bit ago to be not particularly exact - former Sporting boss, Manuel Preciado, and José Mourinho were enemies, throwing insults at each other through the press. But then they patched up their differences and became BFFL. Preciado was at Real Madrid’s training centre on Wednesday to continue that friendship and pick up a few coaching tips along the way. “At the moment, we have a great relationship,” growled Preciado. Manolo is on a bit of a sabbatical after leaving the Asturian club and “taking advantage of unemployment, although I hope it isn’t too long, to learn, improve methods, see colleagues and enjoy myself. I’m going to be in Spain for 15 days and afterwards go to Europe on a professional / tourist tour. I want to go to Italy and England.” If anyone out there should bump into the wonderful fella on his travels, then make sure you get him a frosty, cool beer. LLL Prediction - Home win


Atlético Madrid (9th) v Granada (16th) - 12.00There are a few rumblings in Madrid that Diego Simeone is getting quite a soft ride in the town, despite Atlético failing to win any of their last five league games. LLL suspects it’s because the Rojiblanco boss cuts quite a terrifying figure, which is as good a reason as any. Then again, Atlético Madrid have only lost one of the nine league games Simeone has been in charge - a clash against Barcelona - and as the Atleti boss points out in an interview in Wednesday's Marca, “when I came we were ten points from fourth place, now we are four (it’s actually five - nitpicking LLL). It depends on how you look at it but I always want to see the positive side.” LLL, not wanting its body parts rearranged next time it sees the Argentinean, is going to agree wholeheartedly. LLL Prediction - Home win

Espanyol (11th) v Rayo Vallecano (8th) - 16.00Selling Michu in the summer is likely to be one money-making scheme for cash-strapped Rayo Vallecano, given he is currently Spain’s joint-top goal scorer this season. However the club may have stumbled onto another sure-fire bank account-busting winner - hosting popular music concerts and giant disco-dancing sessions. Now the traditional place for a football club to do this is the stadium itself - the Vicente Calderón hosts the likes of Muse and Coldplay - but Rayo reckon that their rather nifty training complex would be a much better venue. A tester is reportedly taking place at the end of April with a dance music session called “Musicland” with DJ’s such as Carl Cox and John Digweed turning up, playing some Altern-8 and Prodigy songs and wondering what the blazes they are doing on an astroturf pitch some four miles outside of Madrid. LLL Prediction - Home win

Valencia (3rd) v Mallorca (14th) - 16.00Unai Emery has a book out! Oh yes, he does, co-written with Juan Carlos Cubeiro, the tome is called “a winning mentality: the Emery method,” and is all about positive thinking and that kind of business. However, the book isn’t just about a football club reaching third spot and hanging on to it for dear life, it has lessons that can be used out in the real world too. “This mentality is for difficult moments not just in life but also necessary in society,” said the Valencia boss at Monday’s presentation. “This mentality is something that’s in your thoughts, your attitude, not in the results and this is what we’ve established at a very high level at Valencia. The team always wants to win although the results are that they don’t always win.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Racing Santander (18th) v Barcelona (2nd) - 18.00While Barça have been moaning about problems concerning referees - real or imaginary - the Catalan club are traveling to take on a side with genuinely troubling issues. This week, Racing let go of their second coach of the season, Juanjo González. Although the Santander side are still in the relegation zone, the team have been doing as well as expected and grinding out points here and there to keep them in the fight for survival. But, it seems the administrators who now run the club have had other ideas and let Juanjo go, reportedly due to not getting on with his co-coaches. “I don’t agree with the decision but I can understand it,” said González to local Cantabrian radio. His previous partners, Fede Castaños and Pablo Pinillos, are expected to carry on with managerial duties until someone else who doesn’t mind working for peanuts can be found to take over. LLL Prediction - Away win

Osasuna (7th) v Athletic Bilbao (5th) - 21.30A glorious night for Spain in Europe saw victories for Valencia, Atlético Madrid and most wonderfully of all, Athletic Bilbao, who gave Man Utd a lesson in Basque brilliance on Thursday. So which story did AS make their lead on Friday morning? Another "Isn’t José Mourinho brilliant?" story. There are a group of editors at the paper who should be feeling ashamed of themselves right now.LLL Prediction - Home win


Villarreal (17th) v Getafe (15th) - 21.00Although Dani Güiza has without doubt been the worst of Getafe’s strikers this season - a race for the bottom if ever there was one - it is Miku and now Javier Arizmendi who suffered the boos of the Getafe fans, which probably constitutes three people in the crowd of 200 having a bad day and needing an outlet. Arizmendi was the target in last Saturday’s home defeat to Málaga, something that has coach Luis García concerned. “I don’t understand why they do this to him. They booed Miku as a substitute before he was playing. We’ll have to use just one striker now so they aren’t jeered,” said the Getafe boss. LLL Prediction - Home win