La Preview: Mallorca give Laudrup the elbow as Betis look to extend stay at the top


Osasuna (12th) v Mallorca (11th) - 18.00 (local time)Probably the least surprising managerial change of the season saw Michael Laudrup agreeing terms to leave Mallorca earlier in the week. Supporters of the now ex-boss say he was never backed in the transfer market by club VP and majority shareholder, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, and missed out on a forward due to administrative blunder - an error the Dane was fairly critical of to make choppy waters between the pair Laudrup’s enemies in the Balearic battle-ground will declare good riddance to the Dane pointing to a terrible second half to last season that almost ended in relegation for Mallorca, as well as the unimpressive also-rans Laudrup opted to bring in over the summer when actually allowed to sign players. The inevitable happened on Tuesday when the manager’s assistant, Erik Larsen, left the club having called Serra Ferrer “a bad person”.“I’ll buy a dinner for anyone who can find something good to say about him.” The unsurprisingly immediate departure of the number two in light of these comments was followed by the number one with Laudrup making it quite clear who was to blame. “Four years ago, when the current maximum shareholder of Mallorca was coach of Betis he said ‘Betis will be what Lopera wants it to be’. That applies here now. Mallorca will be what Serra Ferrer wants it to be.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Villarreal (14th) v Zaragoza (15th) - 18.00 Spain’s horrendously high unemployment rate was reduced by one this week, when kindly Zaragoza gave a hard-working fella a job. The former Deportivo defensive midfielder Antonio Tomás has been picked up by Zaragoza and given a squad number, with the player claiming at Thursday’s unveiling that he is “tactical, calm, hard work and will bring effort and passion.” LLL Prediction - Home win

Racing Santander (18th) v Rayo Vallecano (13th) - 18.00While the Rayo ground staff are working away to improve the state of Rayo Vallecano’s bobbly pitch - a surface manager José Sandoval has claimed is going to cost his team points this season - the stadium itself has gone through a metamorphosis. Rayo’s home still only has three sides and has folk living inside of it, the name has been changed in a supporters’ vote from the previous title of the ‘Teresa Rivero’ stadium - named after the wife of the head of the Ruiz-Mateos clan, the former owners who are currently going through a few legal issues over corruption. Again. But once the club can afford some paint or some big sticky letters, Rayo’s ground will officially be called from this day forth the ‘Estadio de Vallecas’. LLL Prediction - Draw

Valencia (7th) v Granada (17th) - 20.00In what seems to be one of those stick-the-finger-in-the-air-and-guess studies - a process that’s always been most popular in Spanish football finance - the Granada Chamber of Commerce has had a stab at estimating the income brought in to the city thanks to the local football club’s promotion to la Primera. That magic figure is thought to be a handy €7 million a year to the city’s fine restaurants, hotels and bars and €28 million overall. No pressure from the locals for another campaign of top flight football, then... LLL Prediction - Home win

Málaga (6th) v Getafe (16th) - 22.00 Despite bringing in a bunch of new names causing a heck of a change to Málaga’s starting line-up, one position that hasn’t seen movement is that of Willy Caballero in goal. And that’s not likely to change in the immediate future as the Argentine keeper who turned 30 on Wednesday has let in just two goals - the best record in la Primera. “If goals aren’t conceded then it’s the work of the whole team,” said a generous Willy. LLL Prediction - Home win


Real Sociedad (9th) v Athletic Bilbao (19th) - 12.00A midday kick-off on Sunday may have taken a little of the drunken fun out of the Basque derby for the fans in the stands but la Real’s Antoine Griezmann has done his bit in trying to set a fire under the tie, nonetheless. The French winger has quite a lot of hard, brown-nosing work to do try and get back in the good books with the San Sebastian faithful after attempting but failing to get a move to Atlético Madrid over the summer. So it’s no wonder that the cocky young tyke is predicting a 3-0 for la Real and “three goals for me.” LLL Prediction - Home win

Betis (1st) v Levante (3rd) - 16.00To show exactly how odd it feels to have Betis at the top of la Liga after five games, LLL’s eyes instinctively moved to the bottom of the table to find the league position of the club before it remembered with a sudden rush where the Seville side sat in la Primera. And that’s quite comfortably above everyone else despite a 1-0 defeat to Getafe on Monday night. Betis coach, Pepe Mel - a cross between Peter Griffin from Family Guy and Rafa Benítez - reckons first place is where is team is going to remain for the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu in a fortnight’s time. “We’re going to go there as leaders. We have enough to win our next game although it’s against a good team.” LLL Prediction - Home win

Atlético Madrid (8th) v Sevilla (4th) - 18.00There’s a hint of a Spanish international flavour about Sevilla’s forward line these days, with Jesús Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Diego Perotti all starring for Marcelino’s men. Yes, technically, Perotti is Argentinean born and bred, but that hasn’t stopped Vicente Del Bosque dreaming, claim AS. The paper reports the Spain manager is so impressed with the Sevilla player that he has called for a thorough probing into whether Perotti could be called up to la Furia Roja. Although Perotti has played in two friendlies for Argentina, he has yet to be called up for an official game. What’s more, the wide man became a Spanish citizen in January in what Del Bosque sees as a very promising move. LLL Prediction - Draw

Sporting (20th) v Barcelona (2nd)  - 20.00 Somewhere out in the wider world there’s a super-computer working out Leo Messi’s various goal tallies and assists per game, week, month and season. It whirred into life on Saturday and Wednesday when little Leo put three past a hopeless Atlético Madrid and then two more past a really hopeless BATE Borisov, with the little fella looking rather apologetic about the whole business. Messi’s five strikes helped make him Barcelona's joint-second top goalscorer of all time, with the Argentinean equalling Ladislao Kubala's 194 strikes on Wednesday evening. The forward still has a solid four months of work to do before notching the 42 additional goals it will take to surpass the record total of Barça goals set by César, though. Bottom-of-the-table Sporting should help out on Sunday. LLL Prediction - Away win

Espanyol (10th) v Real Madrid (5th) - 22.00It’s been ‘have a pop at Real Madrid week’ over the past few days for some of the club’s ghosts of the past. The most ghoulish of those was ex-president, Ramón Calderón, who appeared in the Catalan media - always something that will win him fans in Madrid - saying; “I think the club has an owner called Jorge Mendes, the agent of six or seven players at Madrid. At the moment, Florentino is a puppet, it’s incredible.” One of the former president’s managers, Bernd Schuster, also made the news by commenting on matters concerning Mordor’s favourite team. “Giving the side time is ridiculous. It’s a team that’s been together for a year,” opined the unsympathetic German. “The team is as it is with its highs and lows. I’m interested to know if they are capable of improving in the big games in the Champions League and against Barcelona.”LLL Prediction - Away win