La Preview: Valdés under fire, Rayo head on the run and emergency boots


Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo - 19.00 CESTWhat spirit! What gusto! What beautiful madness! Despite being tonked 5-1 on the opening day of the season, hopes are still high in sunny San Sebastian that this will be a great campaign for la Real. That’s certainly the feeling of Asier Illarramendi, who boasted this week that “we are still capable of great things and can be the revelation team of la Liga.” Unfortunately, the midfielder undoes some of this marvelous work though when warning that “what can’t do is think that our objective is Europe, as there are a lot of teams with this goal and if we think about this then we can put put extra pressure on ourselves that could cost us.” LLL Prediction - Home win

Betis v Rayo Vallecano - 21.00 Former Rayo owner and ‘colourful’ businessman José María Ruiz-Mateos made the news in Madrid this week, when he was arrested at his home. It’s not the first time this particular gentleman has been in trouble with the law due to corruption cases over the year, including a spell in the slammer for tax evasion and currency smuggling, but this time Ruiz-Mateos had his collar felt by the Fuzz for failing to turn up on court for his latest fraud case. His excuse? A bad toe prevented him from making the trip to meet the judge.LLL Prediction - Home win

Espanyol v Zaragoza - 21.00Nervy times at Espanyol these days. The club's finances aren't looking so hot, the numbers of season ticket holders have dropped, players are stalling on contract extensions and the aging Simao is the figure the club are putting their hopes on to avoid a nasty relegation battle. However, Verdú, is still feeling cheerful - as well he might as he will be free at the end of the campaign - by claiming that "this team wants more than just staying up, although the first priority is to get 40 odd points."LLL Prediction - Home win

Málaga v Mallorca - 23.00A whopping sigh of relief in the Málaga camp after a 2-0 win in the team’s opening Champions League qualifying tie against Panathinaikos, a couple of matches which could be worth €15m to the apparently cash-strapped Andalusians. However, it’s now back to the reality of la Liga and having to play a match at 11 at night, something the normally placcid Manuel Pellegrini is not ats all happy about. “Let’s see if other teams like Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia have to play on a Saturday night at 11 if they have a Champions League game on Tuesday.”LLL says hush to the Chilean, and quotes a Tweet from the league’s VP, Javier Tebas, when saying that it’s important that there’s a balance between the fans in the stadium and those watching TV. In a sense, it’s job done. Both sets of supporters are unhappy. LLL Prediction - Home win


Osasuna v Barcelona - 19.00If poor Víctor Valdés had a bit of a mare against Real Madrid in the final minutes of Thursday night's game, then he is sure to be in for more of the same treatment up in Pamplona, with Osasuna loving to play in the opponent's faces. Váldes is largely being scapegoated for his slip-up that has allowed Real Madrid a chance at the Bernabeu next week, but LLL feels it's a little unfair on the moody keeper as it was a horrendous back pass from Adriano that put him in some trouble. Plus as Tito Vilanova pointed out "we ask him to always play the ball out from the back," an instinct that prevented Valdés from the more sensible option of wellying the ball into the stands.LLL Prediction - Away win

Getafe v Real Madrid - 21.00'Got away with that one', that's the vibe in the Spanish capital after a sprightly Super Cup clash at the Camp Nou that is pleasantly open but certainly shouldn't be. An AS headline clumsily translated by LLL claims that "Víctor Valdés gets the ticket office" going ahead of Wednesday's game which could have been a bit of a alate night dead rubber, had the Barça keeper not had an unfortunate moment with the scores at 3-1 and Barcelona on the ascendency. Mundo Deportivo sort of agrees with this assessment with the bitter sweet headline of "a victory with a gift."LLL Prediction - Away win

Granada v Sevilla - 21.00One of the more curious transfer stories to appear in the papers this week popped up in AS with Jesús Navas apparently tempting Arsenal into making a €15m bid. It would be even more bad news for la Liga with other non-big two star leaving Spanish shores for the Premier League, but probably also for Arsenal too with the notoriously home-sick suffering midfielder making José Antonio Reyes like Alan Whicker in comparison. LLL Prediction - Away win

Valencia v Deportivo - 23.00It’s Valencia’s turn to demonstrate that it’s not just the push-over, face-kicked-in-the-sand weedy boys like Atlético Madrid and Levante who are forced to play at 11 at night on a Sunday, but the big boys too. Valencia’s match which runs over two days, etc, has been met with some scorn by new fullback, Joao Pereira, who has come to Spain and thinks he can tell the locals how to go about their business despite the Johnny Come Lately only being in la Liga for a few weeks. “It’s the first time I’ve played at 11 at night. In Portugal, it’s considered late when you play at a quarter-past-nine. It’s a time to be going to sleep like Falcao said. It’s bad for fans, How is a 10-year-old kid going to see a match at this time? It’s not good for football,” claimed the Portuguese. LLL Prediction - Home win


Valladolid v Levante - 20.00It was with a tear in the eye that the proud LLL waved Levante off for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Motherwell. Unfortunately, the blog then had to spend a couple hours standing around with the Valencia side’s squad being delayed due to visa issues for Pape Diop. But, it didn’t matter a hammock of figs in the end, with super Levante taking a 2-0 win back to Spain and the chance to overstretch themselves in the Europa League and end up in a relegation battle, Ipswich Town style.LLL Prediction - Draw

Atlético Madrid v Athletic Bilbao - 22.00 While Athletic’s glum news has surrounded the possible departure of two stars in Fernando Llorente and Javi Martínez, Atlético buzz concerns the arrival of a brand new one (seamless link, there). Sprightly 17-year-old midfielder Oliver Torres (no relation), made his league debut in the rather flat 1-1 draw against Levante on Sunday night and has been the topic of gushing reports concerning his background, including a photo of his home on the outskirts of Madrid. The youngster who first made an Atlético squad at the end of April was less than enthusiastic about his appearance though tweeting that “I was nervous, I’ve had better games.”The wee nipper than found out how football fans are quite, quite mad by having to defend himself after being photographed in Real Madrid’s store at the Santiago Bernabeu. “I needed football boots in an emergency, don’t doubt the Atlético (fan) that I am.” There was no news on whether Kaká was being put to good use behind one of the cash registers. LLL Prediction - Home win