Levante’s vow of silence, Mallorca’s last stand & Atlético's Sunday siesta

Friday

Levante (12th) v Zaragoza (16th) - 21.00In a wise move that no doubt pleased the club’s lawyers no end, Levante are shutting up shop in terms of the current match fixing scandal, with the club reportedly under investigation by Spain’s prosecuting authorities. Sergio Ballesteros was due to talk to the press on Monday, but an appearance was cancelled. Speaking on Wednesday, manager Juan Ignacio Martínez announced that no comments would be made on the affair, but did have time to speak about the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, which made quite a few waves in Spain. “Manchester United have always been a reference point for their attacking play. Three or four moves that I’ve got in my notebook are copied from Ferguson,” admitted JIM, referring perhaps to Sir Alex’s rarely deployed ‘long ball-hoof’ tactic, that Levante adopt so regularly. LLL Prediction - Away win 

Saturday

Athletic Bilbao (14th) v Mallorca (20th) - 16.00And now, the end is here....it certainly is for Mallorca, who can all but say goodbye to la Primera if Athletic are not vanquished in San Mamés. Mallorca would no doubt have much preferred to play an Athletic side that was safely snug in mid-table, with not much else to do aside from a bit of backgammon of a weekend to pass the time. Instead, the bottom-feeders face an Athletic side very much in trouble themselves, with just 38 points to their names and in rather poor form. “It’s a match that will make the difference between a quiet month or the start of a wobble and doubts arriving,” was the prognosis from Ander Herrera, who has been a bit of a bottom-lip trembler, in recent months. LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Valladolid  (13th) v Deportivo (18th) - 18.00 A couple of comments made about the match-fixing scandal over the last seven days came from figures involved in this particular tie. Valladolid president Carlos Suárez is a confirmed believer that some games are rigged, but says “there has never been evidence to prove it. Every year, we get strange results, comments, and on top of that you listen to players behind closed doors who say that these things go on.”One footballer who certainly doesn’t want to hear such talk is Depor’s Juan Carlos Valerón, who this week announced that rumours of match fixing in the game between Levante and his side left him feeling 'stunned'. “We don’t want anything to do with this,” said the veteran midfielder. LLL Prediction - Away win

Osasuna (17th) v Getafe (8th) - 20.00Before Monday night, Osasuna might have been viewing Saturday's visit of Getafe in the same way a comfy pair of slippers is viewed after a dark and stormy day: cosy and accommodating. Actually, that sounds a bit wrong. Anyway, Getafe appeared to have given up on their campaign, but a home win against Real Sociedad suggests there may be some fight in the old Coliseum sea dog yet, which is exactly what Osasuna don’t need. “It’s a great dream for me and I get this over to the players,” said Getafe boss, Luis García Plaza, on the idea of European football. While Osasuna’s future may well involve the words ‘second division’, Getafe have been forging ahead with a bright new future. As always, the club have been scooping up players who are about to be out of contract from struggling Primera sides. Getafe president, Angel Torres, announced that a deal had been done for Celta Vigo fullback Roberto Lago, but also noted that “we need some departures” from a squad currently containing 33 players. That includes Dani Güiza, who is going to be rather difficult to shift. LLL Prediction - Home win

Espanyol (11th) v Real Madrid (2nd) - 22.00  Here’s LLL with your condensed Real Madrid nonsense and news taken from the morning papers over the past few days... José Mourinho is still wanting to go to Chelsea. José Mourinho is trying to make internal changes so he can stay. Pepe isn’t happy. Sergio Ramos wants everyone to get along. Neither Mourinho nor Aitor Karanka will be speaking ahead of Saturday’s Espanyol match, as neither can be trusted. Potentially, neither will be talking to the media ahead of Friday’s cup final for pretty much the same reason. Oh, Friday's Marca leads with the news that Zinedine Zidane will be returning to the club in some kind of institutional, director-of-things role. He’s taken courses and everything. LLL Prediction - Draw

Sunday

Rayo Vallecano (10th) v Valencia (5th) - 12.00AS are claiming that Ernesto Valverde is a strong favourite to take over from Marcelo Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao this summer. It’s a story which kicked off when the Valencia boss took over at Mestalla in December, after rumours bubbled up that the coach had already lined up for the San Mamés club. The fact nobody really knows who is charge of Valencia to make decisions on what to do with Valverde is certainly not persuading the coach to stay put. The managerial future at Rayo Vallecano is also still murky, with Paco Jémez and the administrators yet to see eye-to-eye on a new contract. This problem has, in turn, prevented any of the players with soon-to-expire deals from signing on for the upcoming campaign. LLL Prediction - Away win

Real Betis (7th) v Celta Vigo (19th) - 17.00Three games in a week sees a bit of an accelerated relegation process for poor Celta Vigo, a side that lost 3-1 at home to Atlético Madrid on Wednesday evening, but were still applauded off the pitch by supporters. There was yet more bad news from the Galician club, when it was confirmed they had lost Mario Bermejo for up to six months with a cruciate ligament tear. Celta’s 31 point tally now sees the side probably needing to win all three of their remaining games, but midfielder Borja Oubiña is putting on a fairly blustery, Braveheart face on the challenge to come. “This team is not going to give up,” declared the captain. “Not until the season is over.” That could well be on Sunday afternoon, for all intents and purposes. LLL Prediction - Home win

Atlético Madrid (3rd) v Barcelona (1st) - 19.00Time for Atlético Madrid to stretch and gurgle on Sunday and play Adrían as the sole striker. An enormous capitulation at the Vicente Calderón would both ease Barcelona to the league title and rest Atlético’s big hitters ahead of next Friday’s Copa del Rey final. The Rojiblancos had their round 36 match moved forward to last Wednesday due to the final, and duly beat Celta Vigo 3-1 to secure third spot and guaranteed Champions League football. “It’s a big day for Atlético Madrid and I thank everyone that works at the club for contributing to make this a reality,” said Diego Simeone. However, the  Atlético boss promised that it won’t be spa time on Sunday evening, despite LLL's suggestions to the contrary. “We can’t allow ourselves to relax for the next game for the status that Barça and because we never do that.”LLL Prediction - Away win

Málaga (6th) v Sevilla (9th) - 21.00Poor Manuel Pellegrini seemed to be getting towards the end of his Chilean tether after the 6-2 defeat to Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu. “It wasn’t a match as we didn’t have two teams playing under the same conditions,” was the complaint from the Málaga boss after two red cards were handed out to his team. The defeat does seem to have finally finished off Málaga’s chances of a top four finish and the danger now is that the last three games for the southern club become a bit of an ordeal after a trying campaign. “We are coming to the end of a very difficult year in many aspects,” admitted Pellegrini. “When a team sells players it means economically it needs to and the conditions are not of those of the four best teams in Spain. What happens next year in an unknown.” The bright spark for Málaga is that Sevilla are in town on Sunday, the team with just the single away win from 16 this season.  LLL Prediction - Draw

Monday

Real Sociedad (4th) v Granada (15th) - 22.00 There’s nothing quite like poking your nose in where it doesn’t belong, and that’s what Granada striker, Carlos Aranda, did this week with his thoughts on match-fixing. More accurately, the footballer known for being a genuine hard-case that LLL is quite scared of, was most unhappy that Levante’s José Barkero had apparently doubted the integrity of four team-mates during the infamous Deportivo defeat, and had apologised publicly for doing so. “It’s not worth the saliva to talk about someone who has sullied the image of Spanish football and these four professionals,” warned the irate footballer. Real Sociedad, meanwhile, have nicer things to concern themselves with, and that’s finishing fourth by bouncing back from defeat to Getafe on Monday night after 15 matches unbeaten. “Nothing has changed,” promised defender, Alberto de la Bella. Let’s hope not. LLL Prediction - Home win

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