La Preview: Ronaldo losing 'killer instinct' as Rami apologises to ref's mum


Sporting (20th) v Granada (18th) - 18.00 (local time)Despite Sporting losing to Sevilla last Sunday, a defeat that saw the Asturian side remain rooted to the bottom of the table, their performance was quite a sprightly one. This has kept Manuel Preciado in his job for another week. However, even the gurgling sports papers aren’t exaggerating (for once) when calling the coming weekend's clash against Granada a 'final', seeing as it’s against another team currently in the drop zone. “We know what we are playing for on Saturday, it’s more than three points,” admitted striker, Mate Bilic. “We failed against two direct rivals and could only get a draw against Racing at home. We are capable of getting out of this situation but it doesn’t mean anything just saying it, we need to get going and show it right now.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Racing (19th) v Espanyol (10th) - 18.00Constantly changing and frequently unsocial kick-off times, Spain’s economic crisis and expensive ticket prices are all being offered up as root causes for many clubs suffering a drop in attendances this season. The biggest dip is being suffered by Racing Santander, who Marca report have seen a 36% drop from the average attendance at El Sardinero of last season. Racing being sat second bottom of the table, without a victory and with just four goals to their name probably isn’t going to bring the crowds in on Saturday’s game either. LLL Prediction - Away win

Málaga (6th) v Real Madrid (3rd) - 20.00 Having grown a little tired of asking the mirror on the wall who is the fairest of Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín, AS have now begun pondering whether they prefer the new, more frequently passing (but less frequently scoring) Cristiano Ronaldo, who has already set up seven goals this season compared to the 12 for the whole of last term. “I’m worried that Cristiano is not scoring,” fretted José Antonio Ponseti in a debate in Friday’s edition. “I prefer to have the Portuguese happy and with his killer instincts flat out.” Meanwhile, continuing the traditions of rich people never having to pay for anything, the Madrid players were given Audis to whizz around town in for the season. Alvaro Arbeloa picked the cheapest at €42,000, while Ronaldo went for the priciest at a cool €186,000 - something called an R8 Spyder. Perhaps the Madrid forward hasn’t changed that much after all... LLL Prediction - Away win

Barcelona (1st) v Sevilla (4th) - 22.00Honestly, the media in Spain could make an almighty controversy out of ....errrrm... a molehill. Sevilla this week announced that, starting with their visit to the Camp Nou on Saturday, the big sponsorless space on the front of the players’ shirts will be plastered with the slogan, “Proud of Andalusia”.There's nothing wrong with that, the club have used the region to give themselves a bit of identity on many occasions, even choosing to declare their love for cucumbers during the recent food poisoning scare which badly hit local farmers.No, the tizz over this instance surrounds the suggestion that it is an attempt to go toe-to-toe with Barcelona in the nationalist stakes and stir a hornets' nest. It was a topic on which Pep Guardiola was probed following his side’s 2-0 Champions League win over Plzen, but it was an initiative the Barça boss was evidently not in the least bit bothered by. “I think it’s fantastic that people are proud of their homeland,” said Guardiola to a provoking press. LLL Prediction - Home win


Betis (7th) v Rayo Vallecano (16th) - 12.00It’s a big match for Betis defender, Antonio Amaya, who will line up against former club Rayo after jumping from one near bankrupt team to another - via Wigan - over the summer. “It’s going to be difficult,” admitted the stopper to LLL, “Rayo is the team where I grew up but now I’m playing for Betis.” Both sides are coming into the game on the back of some iffy form but Rayo defender Tito says that the dressing room is unconcerned by Sunday’s home defeat against Espanyol.“The dressing room is not worried because until last weekend, the team had been doing well. We don’t have to spill our blood for one defeat although it was painful.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Sociedad (13th) v Getafe (17th) - 16.00 With Getafe managing their worst attendance of the season so far, just 7,000,  for the Coliseum clash with Villarreal last Saturday, the club is now proposing the notion that their normally sparse stands are in an even worse state when the side are playing at the same time as Real Madrid, which is what happened last weekend. It is thought 2,000 of the team’s 9,000 season ticket holders are also in bed with Real Madrid, with Ronaldo, Mourinho and co. always certain to have more allure. LLL Prediction - Draw

Atlético Madrid (8th) v Mallorca (12th) - 18.00Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, currently on-loan from Chelsea, has done rather well for the Rojiblancos since arriving at the Vicente Calderón and is one of the primary reasons for the spookily large number of clean sheets Atleti have mustered this season - a record balanced out by an inability to score at the other end, mind. Interviewed during the week on radio station COPE, the Belgian revealed that he may well be staying at Atlético for a second season - something that will delight the waiting-in-the-wings Joel and Sergio Asenjo, no doubt. However, Courtois is fairly confident that it’s Stamford Bridge rather than the Vicente Calderón that will eventually be his stadium of choice. “I know he has problems with his knees and back,” said the goalkeeper on Peter Cech. “The goalkeeping coach at Chelsea told me he doesn’t know how long he can play at a high level.” LLL Prediction - Home win

Osasuna (15th) v Zaragoza (9th) - 18.00 Zaragoza’s Helder Postiga was the proud holder of LLL’s goal of the week award - the first and only perhaps, with the blog losing track of the imaginary trinkets it hands out - after a wonderful overhead effort against Real Sociedad. “[It was] one of the best goals of my career,” beamed the Portuguese poacher in an interview with AS. “Sometimes these kinds of shots don’t go so well, but despite it being a difficult execution it went ok this time.”LLL Prediction - Home win

Valencia (5th) v Athletic Bilbao (11th) - 20.00 One player who won’t be taking part in this intriguing encounter is Valencia’s Adil Rami. The Mestalla defender was sent off in the closing minutes of last weekend’s draw with Mallorca for telling the referee that his mother was ...ahem... of ill-repute after a penalty was awarded against his team for a dodgy hand-ball. However, the French defender still doesn’t really understand why he was instantly given his marching orders. “I thought it was normal to say this in Spain,” claimed Rami, who does have a point about what is a particularly potty-mouthed country. “I didn’t want to be insulting. I don’t even know the referee’s mother.” LLL Prediction - Draw

Villarreal (14th) v Levante (2nd) - 22.00The Villarreal camp are still smarting over their late, late defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday night, especially with mean old Kun Agüero being a big bully and making fun of his opponents in the tunnel - something the Argentinean has denied through the magic medium of Twitter.“He knows what he did and so do we,” sniffed Villarreal defender, José Manuel Catalá on Thursday. “He has the right to deny it but I know what happened. Everything stays on the pitch,” warned Catalá in what Kun can be expecting in El Madrigal at the rematch in Spain.LLL Prediction - Home win