La Preview: Pellegrini pokes at Mourinho, while Bielsa stays positive

Saturday

Espanyol (19th) v Málaga (3rd) - 16.00 (all kick-offs local time)Málaga boss Manuel Pellegrini has largely kept a dignified silence over his one season spell as Real Madrid manager, aside from pointing out with some justification that having Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder sold from under his nose just before the season’s start wasn’t the best preparation for the campaign. However, the Chilean has been a little more open of late, and told Gazzetta dello Sport that he wasn’t at one with José Mourinho’s way of doing business at the Santiago Bernabeu - revenge, perhaps, for the Portuguese snooty-pants once sniffing that he would never manage a club like Málaga. Pellegrini told the paper that he “didn’t like resultist” managers and that he believed “the concepts of spectacle and creation are fundamental". The Málaga man also mused that "the constructive side of the game is very ahead of the destructive,” words that may well be wafted in Mourinho’s nose ahead of Madrid’s Mallorca clash on Sunday. LLL Prediction - Draw

Betis (6th) v Valencia (9th) - 18.00The king of goal clusters, Roberto Soldado, was back in action on Wednesday when he scored all three of Valencia’s strikes in a 3-0 win over BATE - his 10th hat-trick as a professional. “I don’t know why (I score so many), perhaps when you score a goal, it gives you a big lift and motivates you more.” It certainly seems to work for the former Real Madrid and Getafe man, who tends to score a lot in a very short space of time and then go for long periods offering up diddly-squat. The treble against BATE also had extra significance for Soldado, as it sees the striker becoming Valencia’s top scorer in the Champions League with an admittedly remarkable 14 goals in 16 games in the competition. LLL Prediction - Home win

Celta Vigo (13th) v Deportivo (18th) - 20.00It’s derby day in Galicia when the rain will no doubt crash down on teams who have not played each other for...er...one season, as both new boys were in la Segunda together last year. Deportivo have managed to lose a spectacular four league games in a row, conceding 14 goals in the process. No wonder their striker, Riki!!! claims “we have to win, yes or yes.”On the opposite side of the fish-scented divide, Celta forward Iago Aspas fancies his own side to come away with the victory. “We’re at home, in front of our own fans, so at the moment I think we are favourites.” That was as controversial as it got for the Celta man, who got into some trouble last year for admitting that he celebrated a dark moment from a former derby - Vagner booting Tristan square in the shin - as it if were a goal.LLL Prediction -  Home win

Rayo Vallecano (12th) v Barcelona (1st) - 22.00If there’s one sniff of a hint of a suggestion of a dive in the box from Barcelona in Vallecas on Saturday night, then the home team won’t be happy bunnies at all. If it then results in a red card and a penalty, things could get a very ugly indeed. Rayo are rather miffed that five of their eight league games so far have resulted in reds or penalties against the Madrid side. The most recent dismissal was Labaka’s in the 3-2 defeat to Espanyol, a decision that sent manager Paco Jemez, doolally. “We are humble, but not idiots,” fumed the Rayo boss. Even worse for Rayo, the team have been on the receiving end of 32 yellow cards in their eight matches in la Liga, with just 16 handed out to the opposition. LLL Prediction - Away win

Sunday

Zaragoza (14th) v Sevilla (5th) - 12.00Merely raise an eyebrow at a referee or his assistant these days in Spain and you’re likely to feel the wrath of the man in the middle. Zaragoza's Manolo Jiménez became the sixth Primera boss to be sent off for daring to “make a clear protest to the referee or assistant,” something clearly forbidden in Spain. Jiménez is in very good company though, with the managers of Barcelona, Celta Vigo, Sevilla, Espanyol and Valladolid all having had to watch games from the stands this season, due to la Primera’s prickly officialdom. LLL Prediction - Draw

Levante (7th) v Granada (16th) - 16.00Now, LLL imagines quite a few readers were wondering about the relationship between Granada and the local council, who own the club’s stadium. Until this Tuesday, the answer would have been ‘not well at all’, with a dispute over the running costs being charged to Granada which was felt to be a little steep. Indeed, Granada were even threatening to play their games elsewhere, such was the size of the huff, but a deal has now been struck. Nobody’s actually reading this are they? (le sigh)LLL Prediction - Home win

Athletic Bilbao (17th) v Getafe (11th) - 17.50Another day, another defeat for Athletic, who fell to a late goal and lost out 2-1 to Lyon in France-land. This sees the Basques performing just as badly in Europe as in la Primera, with just the single point being picked up by the Man City of Spain. It’s not a great performance all round as Marcelo Bielsa admits in his own wonderful and very literal style. “If you only win one point from nine, then the situation cannot be described with optimism. But I understand that three wins would put us through and I will never give up on the chances whilst they are still there.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Atlético Madrid (2nd) v Osasuna (20th) - 19.45Swoon, swoon, swoon. That’s the best description for the way LLL is feeling about Diego Simeone at the moment. The 2-1 victory over Académica in the Europa League on Thursday night sees 16 consecutive wins in Europe for the Rojiblancos and 21 in total without defeat. Not that the Atlético boss cares a jot. Grr. “Numbers are for history and journalists. We live for tomorrow. Tomorrow is Osasuna.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Mallorca (8th) v Real Madrid (4th) - 21.30With all three first teamers capable of playing at left-back out injured, all the talk in Mordor last week was who José Mourinho would pick in that position. Would it be ‘cantera’ youth scheme Castilla options, Nacho or Jorge Casado? Nope. Michael Essien, the Portuguese’s tried and tested favourite brought in on loan from Chelsea. And to be fair, LLL can’t really fault the decision, despite the fact that it has raised some heckles in the Madrid press from those who think youth should be given a chance. Bernardo Schuster gets it though, someone who has parked his booty on the hot Bernabeu bench. “The cantera business is a lie. At Madrid you have to win, if you don’t win you’re not worth anything,” recalled the German. LLL Prediction - Draw

Monday

Valladolid (10th) v Real Sociedad (15th) - 21.30Moan, moan, moan. That’s all LLL can hear from Valladolid’s direction, with their fancy-dan claims that they’d like to play their games on a weekend, and at a reasonable time to boot. Valladolid are now facing their fourth Monday night match in nine, two more than anyone else has had to endure. Club president, Carlos Suarez blames the Spanish League for falling too much under the thrall of the powers-that-be in the TV world. “They aren’t working and defender their clubs who they are putting in the hands of the TV channels. They need to work a bit more and talk less.” And with that final piece of advice Suárez inadvertently discovered Spain’s way out of their recession, for good measure. LLL Prediction - Home win

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