La Preview: Ruud the Flesh-Eating Vampire and Mourinho’s Reign of Terror

SATURDAY

Real Sociedad v BarcelonaThe debate over the ethical ins and outs of Barcelona’s deal with the Qatar Foundation rumbles on in Catalunya, with ruminations over the serious impact the partnership could have on Barça’s all-powerful UNICEF-inspired smugness levels. Salvados, an investigation show on Spanish TV channel LaSexta, travelled to Qatar to find out more about the charitable organisation by talking to the group’s vice-president Saif Ali Al-Hajari in an interchange that got a little bit testy towards the end. Mundo Deportivo reported that the Barcelona board saw the programme’s broadcast as ‘opportune’ with the agreement set to be voted on in the club’s annual members’ conference later in September. As MD writer Miguel Rico sighs, “Only Barça is capable of debating a suitability of a sponsorship deal of €165m in five years.” LLL Prediction – Away win

Villarreal v SevillaThe two ringleaders fighting against the oppressive money-hoarding of Barcelona and Real Madrid meet on Saturday night, just two days after the newly-formed ‘G-12’ group met in Seville to discuss what is to be done about the inequality of the share in the TV lolly in la Primera. The answer to that particular poser is "Don’t really know" but Sevilla president José María del Nido was still in full Braveheart mode with his declaration that “there's no turning back”. There’ll be no turning back from more meetings in the meantime, with another session planned where invitations will be sent to the six no-shows from la Primera, the clubs of the second division – Deportivo’s jowly president Augusto Lendoiro will surely be there with his extra-big buffet plate – as well as Real Madrid and Barcelona. LLL Prediction – Away win

Real Madrid v GetafeFor a real insight into what is going on behind the gates of Mordor, the best source of information is the Catalan press – ‘best’ in this case meaning ‘most paranoid’. In a most entertaining account this week, Mundo Deportivo has been detailing José Mourinho’s ‘reign of terror’ at the Santiago Bernabeu.“Not even a pen can be moved” without The Special One’s special permission, gasps the paper, claiming that Florentino Pérez has given his manager the freedom to do anything he so pleases. The paper gives an example of this brutal behaviour by claiming that a member of the club’s medical team had to ask permission from Mourinho on the club’s recent USA tour to treat an unwell member of the Spanish press pack, as Mourinho was against close relations between the media and Real Madrid. LLL suspects that when Mourinho claims that “there is a campaign against me, it’s well organised and I enjoy it, it’s a motivation for me,” he may have a bit of a point. LLL Prediction – Home win

Valencia v Atlético MadridThe news agenda at the Vicente Calderón was dominated by two figures who are no longer at the club, Diego Forlán and Quique Sánchez, with both bickering busybodies discussing their dysfunctional relationship last season. Forlán came out on the attack from his Milan safe-house by bitching that the former Atlético boss has had “a lot of teams and had problems in all of them.” By contrast, the squeaky-clean forward is 32 "and I’ve a lot of coaches and no problems with any” – aside from Sir Alex Ferguson, who booted him out of Old Trafford, apparently for ignoring his advice over the size of the Uruguayan’s studs. The still-cucumber-cool Quique responded by noting that “in eight years as professional, I’ve not had a problem as a coach with players of the level of Villa, Aimar, Silva, Kun or Reyes,” and that their fallout last season was all down to Forlán. LLL Prediction – Home win

SUNDAY

Betis v MallorcaSeville. On a Sunday. In September. At a sizzling midday. It's a kick-off causing concern, with Betis' head of medical services Tomás Calero fretting that “I’m more afraid for the public that the footballers themselves, who will be watched for every moment.”  In a tumultuous week at Mallorca, it looked for a while like coach Michael Laudrup would be walking out after his bosses failed again on transfer deadline day to bring in a striker, something that the Great Dane has been requesting for seven months now. Mallorca were trying to get their Balearic hands on Belgian striker Marvin Ogunjimi, but FIFA ruled on Thursday that the paperwork for the deal missed the deadline by 13 minutes – leaving Laudrup without his forward and hopping mad about it too. “If you play with fire then you're going to get burned,” stormed the Mallorca manager in an almighty fallout with VP Lorenzo Serra Ferrer.LLL Prediction – Home win

Racing v LevanteLike Snap, LLL has the power. And that power has been granted to it (and everyone else) by the TV companies and the LFP, with the kick-off times of games for Racing, Levante and every team in the first and second division now known up to three weeks in advance – a miracle people thought would never be seen in Spain. One of the gentlemen responsible for sorting out who plays who and when is Jaume Roures, one of the owners of Mediapro, who have a share in the rights of la Liga. In an interview in Marca, Roures manages to come across as a gentleman with the social skills of an Australian, especially when asked why it had taken so long for himself and his colleagues to get their s**t together. “Why weren’t people complaining three years ago when we also gave out fixtures 10 days in advance?” The answer of course was that they were, but Roures no doubt had his head jammed too far up his jacksie to listen. LLL Prediction – Home win

Osasuna v SportingIt’s quite possible that LLL may not have been paying attention but it seems that there is whistling, skipping and tap-dancing in Pamplona these days with Osasuna fans supposedly full of joy about the season to come – despite everyone else expecting a hard campaign in which the team saves itself in a desperate dash over the last month, like every year.Osasuna sporting director Angel Martín González has called for this supposed giddiness from the team’s supporters to stop immediately, noting that he has observed “too much excitement and enthusiasm.”LLL Prediction – Home win

Rayo Vallecano v ZaragozaThere was yet more rebellion in the People’s Republic of Vallecas with the footballers stopping training on Tuesday to support the club’s academy coaches who – like pretty much everyone else at Rayo over the past two years – have gone unpaid. Club captain and LLL hero José Movilla told AS about the problems in Vallecas and the motivation behind Rayo’s promotion-winning campaign last year. “We know that if we didn’t go up then the club would have disappeared,” said the goalscorer of Rayo’s opening 1-1 draw at Athletic two weeks ago. LLL Prediction – Home win

Espanyol v Athletic BilbaoAdapting to a new tactical scheme that involves players passing to each other along the ground rather than hoofing it up field on a regular basis has been causing Fernando Llorente some problems, it seems, with the Athletic striker noting that under Joaquín Caparrós all he had to do was stand with his back to goal for 90 minutes but now he has to move around a bit under the orders of Marcelo Bielsa.Over in Perico-land and the mood is very gloomy with the squad having lost forwards Luis García and Osvaldo over the summer and replaced the pair with ageing nut-job Walter ‘the rifle’ Pandiani. “There is pessimism and unhappiness with the fans,” admits Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino, “but this can be changed with victories.”LLL Prediction – Draw

MONDAY

Málaga v Granada“People call me ‘pisha’ in the street. At the start I didn’t know what it meant, but it’s something good isn’t it?” Ruud van Nistelrooy asked AS this week. LLL must confess that it has no idea, with the blog doing a quick Google search to find out whether the Dutch striker is either being compared to an Albanian footballer playing for Dinamo Tirana or a flesh-eating vampire in a computer game. LLL Prediction – Home win

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