Levante lead the way in Europe, as old boys look to return to haunt Atlético

Friday

Athletic Bilbao (15th) v Real Sociedad (6th) - 21.30 (all kick-offs local time)La Real fans Gorka Santos and Ander Etxaniz had a bit of time to kill earlier this week - not to mention some pretty sturdy sleeping bags. The pair camped outside their club’s ticket office for 31 hours to make sure they had their frozen hands on two of the 400 available tickets for Friday’s Basque derby. The match isn’t just a pretty good chance for the San Sebastian supporters to see their boys win in Bilbao, but also the opportunity to catch the last derby between the two teams in San Mamés. To cheer up the fans through the day and night on Monday, Philippe Montanier and some of his players wandered past with bottles of water and club shop goody bags ahead of an away fixture la Real have not won since 2000/01. LLL Prediction - Draw

Saturday

Mallorca (19th) v Getafe (11th) - 16.00 It’s almost as if those running the game in Spain wanted to find the polar opposite to the excitement generated by the match set to be played in the same time-slot a week later - Real Madrid v’s Barcelona. This could be an horrendous affair between a team that are limp as lettuce away from home - with just three wins from 12 - and a Mallorca side with just the single victory from 19 league games. Still, defender Nunes is optimistic about Mallorca’s chances, and takes positives from last week’s 2-0 defeat at Valencia. “We did what few teams have done in Mestalla. We had clear chances,” said the club captain. He was perhaps overly bigging-up his own side, given Deportivo stuck three past Valencia in their own ground, while Real Madrid and Real Sociedad managed five. Nunes also asks for the 12,000 or so who come to games to return on Saturday and perhaps bring a few friends along too. “The match is at a good time, we want everyone there with us, it’s very important as we notice this.”LLL Prediction - Draw

Zaragoza (17th) v Valencia (5th) - 18.00With rumours of Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde already having a pre-pre-pre-agreement with Athletic Bilbao for next season before he'd even taken his current post in December, the nerves are increasing in Mestalla over the non-movement of a deal to keep him at the club beyond the end of his current deal in June. Thusly, Roberto Soldado was wheeled out on Wednesday with a bit of a ‘please don’t go’ appeal to the manager. “The dressing room loves him and we would all love it if he stays with us,” gleamed the striker who then admitted something that must have delighted the man he replaced, Mauricio Pellegrino. “The players are giving much more than we did at the start of the season,” recalled the Mestalla marksman. LLL Prediction - Draw 

Deportivo (20th) v Real Madrid (3rd) - 20.00By Jimmeny Cricket, new Deportivo manager Fernando Vázquez has a plan to keep Deportivo up. Step 1) As revealed to Spanish radio station, Cadena Ser, Depor are looking to win eight of their remaining matches. LLL thinks they can manage five at most, and that's only if they quickly learn how to defend over the next few days. Step 2) Learn the basics of football. “I want a team that knows that to do with the ball and what to do when it doesn’t have it.” Step 3) Take points off a Real Madrid team that is largely hopeless away from home and has only won one of the past 19 clashes between these two teams in La Coruña. LLL thinks this particular part will be mission accomplished. Not sure about the rest though. LLL Prediction - Draw

Barcelona (1st) v Sevilla (10th) - 22.00“More out than in,” was the opinion of Santi Nolla, director of Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo, the morning after the Champions League defeat to Milan in San Siro. Despite the handball in the lead up to the Italian side’s first goal, the mood in Barcelona is of few complaints about the result, with Nolla lamenting the fact the Spanish league leaders were “incapable of creating chances, when the key to the result was to score.” The vibe was the same with Sport, whose front cover on Thursday was “No excuses” with  a tiff over “the worst Barça” and “the worst referee”. Things have suddenly gotten interesting in the Camp Nou world. LLL Prediction - Home win

Sunday

Rayo Vallecano (7th) v Valladolid (13th) - 12.00Looking at the fun had here by Rayo Vallecano fans on a special metro to the Santiago Bernabéu last weekend, it’s a wonder they don’t do trips around the city before every home game. Enjoy the wonderful madness.LLL Prediction - Home win

Celta Vigo (18th) v Granada (14th) - 17.00New Celta boss Abel Resino looks like a grumpy old goat, and in LLL’s experience, that’s exactly what the former goalkeeper is. The blog has seen him scowling at Atlético Madrid, Valladolid and Granada in recent seasons, and looks forward to repeating the experience the next time Celta Vigo are in town. Resino hasn’t had the best of starts to his tenure at the Galicia club due to the unfortunate Salva Ballesta business, but does face an intriguing game on Sunday which is being branded ‘a final’ in Galicia. Of course. Able Abel took over opponents Granada in January last season, when the side was in trouble and was able to keep them up. The new Celta boss is now facing his former club and a manager in the form of Lucas Alcaraz who is attempting to do the exact same thing with the Andalusian side. Confused? You will be, as two emergency deployment managers collide. LLL Prediction - Home win

Atlético Madrid (2nd) v Espanyol (12th) - 19.00It’s an Atlético old guard coming to take on the new Rojiblancos, who will still be thawing out after their Europa League win (but ultimately defeat) in Moscow. Javier Aguirre used to manage at the Vicente Calderón, while Espanyol players Joan Capdevila, Martin Petrov and Simao all used to play there. Despite Atlético winning 12 from 12 at home in la Liga this season, the all-powerful spirit of the new manager sees Espanyol fancying their chances in the Spanish capital. “Now we feel we can take on anyone,” growls Víctor Sánchez. LLL will be popping along to this particular match, mainly to see if Espanyol’s in-form forward man, Stuani, will be continuing to play with a protective mask over his face despite being given the all clear to remove it after suffering a broken cheekbone. The blog reads reports the Uruguayan may continue to sport the mask which has now become a good luck token. Spain is different. LLL Prediction - Home win

Betis (8th) v Málaga (4th) - 21.00Betis president, Miguel Guillén, was as cool as cucumber last season when his club went through an awful spell -  far worse than the current two points from 15 run for Betis - and people were calling for the firing of Pepe Mel. Guillén is the peacemaker once again, with Betis struggling to score goals and struggling to get results that sees the side slipping out of European contention. “The objective is clear: nobody was going crazy before and nobody is thinking that it’s a disaster now.” Meanwhile the real cause of Málaga's poor showing against Porto has become evident - the team’s third choice kit, which is green. Málaga have played two matches in the outfit, with two defeats. “Clearly, the shirt doesn’t score goals but the Málaga dressing room is superstitious and there’s been talk of talking the kit out of circulation,” reports Marca. LLL Prediction - Draw

Monday

Levante (9th) v Osasuna (16th) - 21.00With Spain's four Champions League sides all failing to win the first legs of the Last 16 clashes, and Atletico Madrid crashing out of the Europa League, it has been left to Levante to keep the flag flying for la Liga.To celebrate this fact, Levante’s bosses took pretty much the entire club’s staff - including the gardener - to Greece for the Olympiacos clash, as a way of thanking them for their efforts and as a mini celebration of another top year. The party on the plane will have been a pretty darn good one, LLL imagines, with Levante picking up a 1-0 win against Míchel’s men to put them through to the next round against Rubin Kazan, the slayers of Atlético Madrid. LLL Prediction - Draw

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