La Preview: AS mull Mourinho movements as Zaragoza go for a record

Saturday

Racing Santander (18th) v Atlético Madrid (7th) - 18.00 (local time)“Courage! Passion! Cojones! Courage! Passion! Cojones!” has been the very clear message from Rojiblanco coach Diego Simeone since taking charge of Atlético over Christmas. To be fair, this particular mantra has been a tremendous success, with his team yet to concede a goal, never mind lose a game during the newbie’s spell. So it’s time to drop in on the Argentinean ahead of another match and see if the power-mad positive vibe has changed at all. “I am conscious that we can give so much more than we are all giving now and we are going to demand more from ourselves,” yelled Simeone during Wednesday’s press conference. So thatt’s a ‘no’ then. LLL Prediction - Away win

Osasuna (9th) v Barcelona (2nd) - 20.00As if Real Madrid and Barcelona don’t have enough opportunities for big squabbles, another has arisen - the location of the Copa del Rey final. As ever, the Spanish FA don’t yet have a date for the show-piece event or any clue of where to play it. The mega-capacity Santiago Bernabeu would be ideal, but AS claim that this notion would be poo-pooed straight away by Real Madrid with the club giving all sorts of excuses such as security, building works and possible Champions League celebrations. However, the paper’s editor hits the mole on the head with a mop when writing that “the reality is that they don’t want it because they don’t like the idea of Barça winning the Copa in the Bernabeu.” LLL Prediction - Away win

Betis (16th) v Athletic Bilbao (6th) - 22.00 LLL gets the feeling Javier Clemente doesn’t like Marcelo Bielsa and his fancy, passing football ways at his beloved Athletic Bilbao. In a tremendously rant-filled interview with ‘Quality Sport’, the former Athletic boss claims that “nothing has moved forward under Bielsa. There are no great changes. They are the same players.” The grumpy Basque so-and-so also discusses what would happen if anyone at the club tried to change the team’s traditional ‘local club for local people’ transfer policy. “He would last three weeks in Bilbao as the fans would finish him off. I would too.” LLL Prediction - Draw

Sunday

Espanyol (5th) v Zaragoza (20th) - 12.00 A special challenge for la Primera’s bottom-dwellers this weekend. If Zaragoza fail to win, then the team will equal the worst run in the club’s history. Zaragoza have now contrived to go 14 matches in la Liga without a victory. Another failure this weekend will equal a record that has stood since 1943. Good work! LLL Prediction - Home win

Málaga (8th) v Mallorca (13th) - 16.00Due to all the excitement of Marcelino’s sacking by Sevilla, LLL began to get a little bit carried away and thought Manuel Pellegrini was about to bite the bullet after Monday night's defeat to Granada left Málaga with just the single victory in eight games. Apparently the blog was not alone in sensing a firing in the pipeline, a whiff so big that the club’s sporting director, Fernando Hierro, came out to speak to the press on Wednesday to deny that there was any managerial movement in Málaga’s footballing bowels. “There isn’t an ultimatum for Pellegrini or for anyone,” announced the former Real Madrid man. “I’ve spoken five or six times with him and he’s very excited about the project.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Rayo Vallecano (12th) v Getafe (10th) - 16.00And so Getafe’s quest to find fans continues. The least surprising news story of the week was in AS, who suggested few supporters would be making the short trip from Getafe to Vallecas to catch another Madridileño derby. However, Getafe don’t give up that easily with the paper also reporting that every punter who spends €40 in the club shop - although it is more of a small kiosk, to be fair - will be handed a free ticket to next weekend’s clash against Espanyol. LLL Prediction - Home win

Valencia (3rd) v Sporting (19th) - 18.00Valencia getting knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the semi-final stage by Barcelona sees Unai Emery’s men now completely focussed on the Europa League and the non-existent battle from teams below to grab the side’s solid as cement third-place perch. Sporting, meanwhile, have decided to stick with the former number two manager, Iñaki Tejada, at least until June after the recent sacking of Manuel Preciado. LLL Prediction  - Home win

Villarreal (17th) v Granada (14th) - 19.45It’s been two matches and two wins for Abel Resino as Granada manager, since taking over from the flat-topped, odd character that was Fabri. Curiously, the former Atlético boss is a former goalkeeper - the second in la Primera along with José Molina at Villarreal who Granada are facing this weekend - so Marca probed him thoroughly on his opinion on Spain’s current crop of goal-stopping supremos. “Valdés is the goalkeeper that I like the most,” opined Resino, “I think he is the most dominant in all the areas of being a goalkeeper.  Casillas is very regular and has the advantage of competing since he was very young.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Madrid (1st) v Levante (4th) - 21.30There is an interesting juxtaposition in Friday’s AS, which boasts that José Mourinho has already begun to plan his team’s next pre-season - familiarising himself with the Manchester traffic system, perhaps. On the opposite page of a spread predicting that Mourinho will be taking Real Madrid back to Los Angeles, the paper also carries an article musing over whether a move to Spurs might be an option for Mourinho what with all the kerfuffle over Harry Redknapp and Fabio Capello.  LLL Prediction - Home win

Monday

Real Sociedad (15th) v Sevilla (11th) - 21.00As usual, the sacking of an old manager and the arrival of another has seen footballers falling in line to praise the new coach up to his knee caps. Sevilla’s Manu del Moral couldn’t be happier to see Míchel at the Andalusian club with the forward having played for the manager at Getafe. “If I had to chose a coach to change this situation, then Míchel without doubt is the right one,” oozed Del Moral. “At Getafe he found a very similar situation and managed to change things around.”LLL Prediction - Draw

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