La Liga is back – and therefore so is Tim Stannard's excitementometer...
As always after an international break, LLL is leaping around the ankles and knees of the Spanish Primera like a dog welcoming home its humans.
That enthusiasm will no doubt wane, 89 seconds into Levante putting 15 men behind the ball against Sevilla on Friday and hoping that the referee doesn’t notice the slight increase in numbers of players on the pitch.
But let’s not get too down in the dumps early doors. Here are some bits and pieces to look out for over the next four days.
Did Piqué ride the wave of a tough week?
Gerard Piqué, LLL salutes you. Indeed, hundreds of La Liga writers, pundits and big-mouths – usually all three rolled into one – would like to thank you for being a bit of a pantomime villain and receiving the wrath of nonplussed booing crowds around the north of Spain. Although these probably weren’t pleasant experiences for the Barcelona defender, at least it meant that the unseemly business of having to care about the Euro qualifiers was avoided with plenty of other stuff to write about.
Not being able to play in La Liga due to a suspension, Pique had plenty of time to spout forth on how he felt about the whole situation. And he did it in style, saying that while he felt bad for the problems it caused Vicente del Bosque and his team-mates, it was all pretty much water off a footballer’s back.
“Being booed in the Bernabéu would sound like a symphony,” remarked Piqué with a cheeky grin, claiming he would be the same person he has always been, but will try to start liking Sergio Ramos a bit more. Piqué will be putting up his feet for the trip to the Vicente Calderón to face Atlético Madrid in one of those games that act as a handy gauge of how good the two teams really are, after some early-season sparring.
Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona - Saturday 8.30PM CEST - live on Stats Zone
Will Ronaldo avoid corporeal eruption by plugging James' hole?
- Levante vs Sevilla
- Espanyol vs Real Madrid
- Sporting Gijon vs Valencia
- Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona
- Real Betis vs Real Sociedad
- Granada vs Villarreal
- Athletic Bilbao vs Getafe
- Celta Vigo vs Las Palmas
- Malaga vs Eibar
- Rayo Vallecano vs Depor
Will there be a rupture in the space-time continuum? Will there be a devastating gravity well? Or will it simply be a massive, icky explosion of body stuff? What will happen if Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t score for Real Madrid at Espanyol?
The highly-polished Portuguese is in a bit of slump – by his standards; not for, say Angel Arizmendi – with just one goal in the past nine games. However, his ego would have been polished a little by comments from Florentino Pérez on Wednesday night that it would cost €1bn for another team to buy him – about 90% more than PSG reportedly offered on deadline day.
A down-in-the-dumps Ronaldo may also be buoyed by the absence at Cornella of another player who could potentially have robbed some goals from his boots or head, as happened with Betis a fortnight ago: James Rodríguez returned from international duty with a torn muscle.
Espanyol vs Real Madrid - Saturday 4PM CEST - live on Stats Zone
Can Celta stay top of the table?
Celta Vigo being top could be a distinct possibility once Sunday’s final match is over. Four teams have 100% records; two of those, Atlético and Barcelona, play each other and are unlikely to rack up enough goals to beat LLL's target for Celta. The other is Eibar – perhaps good for a draw against Málaga, but not much more. This leaves Celta with the simple talk of seeing off Las Palmas, who have yet to score since returning to La Primera. LLL has a feeling in its pinkies that there will be a Galician glow atop the table.
Celta Vigo vs Las Palmas - Sunday 6.15PM CEST - live on Stats Zone
Can Sevilla survive defensive shortfall?
Medical mayhem for Sevilla. At least Friday’s match is against Levante, a side not known for their attacking prowess or desires. However, life might get a little bit tougher with three potential centre-back starters out of action due to injury. The tainted trio are Adil Rami, Nicolas Pareja and Carrico.
The former pair are out for up to two months, with the latter not expecting to return until the end of the year. Not ideal, with a hefty amount of heavy lifting impending in the league and Champions League. “We have the squad to cover this,” assured the admittedly versatile Vicente Iborra.
Levante vs Sevilla - Friday 8.30PM CEST - live on Stats Zone
Do Getafe know truth about end of the world?
Some 189 years after the rest of the sporting world decided to use Twitter to either get sacked, fined or flog pants like Cristiano Ronaldo, the mighty Getafe have jumped on board this week and opened an official account. And the 50ish tweets so far have been most informative and entertaining to the blog, concerning the fate of various youth teams and what Vicente Guaita had to say in a press conference. The site itself is following the Twitter accounts of its players, fellow Primera clubs, Marca and AS and also a company called Bioshelter Travels. Do the Madrid club know something we don’t about the fate of our lovely planet?
What Getafe would like to be tweeting about on Sunday is getting their first points of the season – against Athletic Bilbao, the only other pointless Primera team, albeit one with half a million Twitter followers compared to Getafe’s 7,028. Let’s all work together today to get that up to 7,100. Get following!
Athletic v Getafe - Sunday 4pm CEST - live on Stats Zone
Will Raúl Albentosa survive Eibar clash?
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The centre-back should have been turning out for the visitors really, but Albentosa has been shipped about a bit, playing for his third club in a year. The first was Eibar, until January. A move was made to Derby County before the Spaniard was moved on loan to Málaga, who host the Primera co-leaders on Sunday night. “Monday was my birthday and some old team-mates and friends called me up. There were some jokes and some threats about what would happen in the game.” Some friends he's got there.
Málaga v Eibar - Sunday 8.30pm CEST - live on Stats Zone