La Preview: Insolvent Sevilla, Pellegrini’s revenge and feisty Fernando

FRIDAY

Espanyol (20th) v Sevilla (11th) – 21.30: all kick-offs Spanish local timeSevilla president José María Del Nido isn’t having the best of times at the moment and it’s probably part of nature’s wonderfully balanced plan to make up for those happy days of Sevilla winning lots of trophies and Del Nido being illegally up to his arm-pits in Marbella cash. No "allegedly" required here, either [Phew - Ed.], with the lawyer being found officially, properly, banged-to-rights guilty of corruption and going through an appeal process to prevent him from serving serious time. “I was convicted unjustly and remain innocent,” declared the Andalusian overlord.

Del Nido’s side followed up a defeat at Atlético with a grim 2-1 loss at home to Valladolid on Monday night to leave the side stuck in 12th, seven points from the Champions League places. And that’s where Sevilla need to be if the team are to get out of their current financial hole, with Del Nido presenting losses for the first time under his leadership at the annual shareholders meeting and announcing that €16m in sales will be required to partly make up for a deficit predicted for the season to come. “We wouldn’t have had our success if we hadn’t spent more than our income allowed,” claimed Del Nido in justifying the iffy state of Sevilla’s accounts. LLL Prediction – Draw

SATURDAY

Real Sociedad (9th) v Getafe (6th) – 16.00Oh no! Champions League chasing Getafe are starting to make some enemies in the world! The club’s website this week was hacked with a barely legible rudey-rude missive posted which had the following message under the club’s crest – all sic, by the way. “**** premier league spanish. No time to bull****s...i am got to attak more site’s! HAhahahahah:P. Algeria and morocco.”

LLL suspects that a still-aggrieved Dani Güiza may have a lot of time on his hands out in Malaysia and has taken a Website Design For Beginners course. LLL Prediction – Home win

Málaga (5th) v Granada (18th) – 18.00 Revenge! Rain on your wedding day! Not that the very lovely, smooth and sophisticated Manuel Pellegrini is in to that kind of thing. But there’s a certain twist to Saturday’s clash between Málaga and Granada. LLL readers may well remember a certain Copa del Rey defeat to Alcorcón in 2009 spelling the beginning of the end for Pellegrini at Real Madrid.

The manager of the Madrid minnows at that time was Juan Antonio Anquela. The same gentleman is now the coach of Granada, and potentially one defeat away from the chop with Granada third from bottom and managing just the single win in seven. “I’ve been waiting three years for this, bee-atch” is something that Pellegrini probably isn’t going to be saying as the pair meet on the touchline ahead of Saturday’s clash. LLL Prediction – Home win

Valladolid (7th) v Real Madrid (3rd) – 20.00Mourinho got his Portuguese booty owned during the team’s victory against Atlético Madrid last Saturday. During the match, LLL spotted an altercation between the Real Madrid bench and former loon-bag Rojiblanco goalkeeper turned Diego Simeone assistant Germán ‘Mono’ Burgos. According to El Mundo, an irate Burgos was reminding Mourinho that he wasn’t Tito Vilanova and he would cheerfully “rip his head off” if push came to shove. Or poke.

Quite naturally, the Portuguese was asked about the incident ahead of the Ajax clash and riffed on his ‘Pito Vilanova’ routine from last season by asking “who is Mono Burgos?” As is the way of the world in the Spanish press, Atlético Madrid president Enrique Cerezo was then asked for his response to the Madrid’s man’s response and kept the rift going and inviting a tit-for-tat war of nonsense.

“Who is Mourinho, is he the president of Celta?” joshed the Rojiblanco ruler. For the record, the president of Celta Vigo is Carlos Mouriño, making Cerezo’s gag even more side-splitting but probably fairly insulting at a certain Galician club. LLL Prediction – Draw (repeat, "draw"!)

Osasuna (16th) v Valencia (12th) – 22.00Rather than appointing Ernesto Valverde as manager until the end of the season, Valencia president Manuel Llorente should simply have handed the team’s delegate Salvador González Marco the coach’s role after ‘Voro’ took over the bench duties for Valencia’s 1-0 win at Lille in the Champions League.

The former Valencia player was taking over the side for the second time, having temporarily taken the role in 2008 for five games after Ronald Koeman left Mestalla. Voro’s six matches in charge have brought about five wins for Valencia, which has LLL thinking that the answer to the club’s problems is very close to home. LLL Prediction – Draw

SUNDAY

Levante (8th) v Mallorca (17th) – 12.00It’s Levante, so time for Europa League update, dum-de-dum. And the good news is that the Valencia club will still form part of it next year. Although Levante had already qualified for the knock-out rounds, the plucky battlers had the chance to come top of their group, for what it’s worth, but could only get a draw against Hannover which wasn’t quite enough.

Atlético also ended up in second after defeat at Viktoria Plzen, whilst Athletic Bilbao played out the final European match ever, ever, ever at San Mamés with the club set to move into a brand new home next year. Sadly it was the deadest of dead rubbers, a goalless draw against Sparta Prague in which Fernando Llorente was booed. Which brings us neatly onto the next match.LLL Prediction – Home win

Athletic Bilbao (15th) v Celta Vigo (14th) – 17.00Fernando Llorente spoke out this week. Let’s face it, the Athletic striker isn’t particularly having a fun time of it in the Basque-lands after being pretty much being ostracised by Marcelo Bielsa for daring to want to leave the club. “I’m off on the 30th June,” announced Llorente. “I want to try different things. I’ve been European and World Champion. I’ve been playing well for a few years now.”

At the striker’s first formal press conference of the year, Llorente also had a pop at those sat before him for stirring the pot of controversy somewhat. “Most stories about meetings with other clubs have been lies and have helped set people against me.”

Juve are back in the frame as a possible destination, with the Italian club perhaps wanting to reinforce over the winter for the next Champions League phase, but Marcelo Bielsa says not a chance. “His departure in January has been rejected and it’s a fixed position and his presence is necessary,” declared the Athletic boss. LLL Prediction – Home win

Atlético Madrid (2nd) v Deportivo (19th) – 19.00Fighting talk from Deportivo midfielder Abel Aguilar ahead of Sunday’s whopper of a clash against Atlético, which could leave Depor rock bottom. “We can’t go to the Calderón thinking that if lose it doesn’t matter because the rival is a big team. We’re in a situation that we can’t think that way. We have to go there to win." So that's alright then.

Depor old-timer Juan Carlos Valerón was also in chipper mood claiming that his team are a bit down but not out. “The team has something, it’s not that we don’t know how to play or that we are disaster. ” He also had lovely words for manager José Luis Oltra: “I think he has unlimited credit.” Deportivo’s wonderfully-named big boss Augusto César Lendoiro may disagree.LLL Prediction – Home win

Betis (4th) v Barcelona (1st) – 21.00Tito Vilanova has learned another fun side of being a football manager – having to deal with a 20-20 vision, wiser-after-the-event football press. With a fairly weakened Barcelona goalless against Benfica and needing a bit of a boost, the Barça boss brought on Leo Messi with half-an-hour to go. Unfortunately, the striker had a a clash with Benfica goalkeeper Arturo, and had to be stretchered off with a knee injury that wasn’t too serious in the end but saw a few Camp Nou bowels emptying in fear. 

So of course, Vilanova was asked "Why risk Messi?", despite the fact that the same injury could be suffered in any game, in training or even running for the bus. (Has Messi ever run for a bus? Has any footballer ever run for a bus, besides Ever Banega trying to catch up with the team coach?) “I wouldn’t have done anything differently,” insisted Tito. “If that was the case then I’d change him after 60 minutes in every game in case he got injured.”LLL Prediction – Away win

MONDAY

Rayo Vallecano (10th) v Zaragoza (13th)Transfer gossip! Although not as exciting as the Kaká-to-Portman-Road story that LLL has just made up. Atlético are thought to be taking a lazy stretch and yawn during the winter window and making a bid for Rayo forward Leo Baptistao, who has an €8m clause, which is a little higher than the 20p stuck on Michu as price tag.

In order to grease the deal's wheels, the Rojiblancos may offer centre back Jorge Pulido, who had a successful loan spell in Vallecas last season and still can’t get a decent gig at the Vicente Calderón. The deal could be even more likely if Atlético can persuade Arsenal and Arsene Wenger that Adrián is a free-scoring striker. LLL Prediction – Home win

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