Málaga prepare for battle, Zaragoza prepare for the impossible, Espanyol prepare to get dirty

Saturday

Rayo Vallecano (9th) vs Málaga (6th) - 16.00 (all KOs local time)As Málaga gear up for one major battle in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund, another is on the horizon in the courts. The club will continue their attempts to reverse UEFA’s ruling that they should be banned from European competition for next season through the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The first oral arguments are set to be heard on 14th May, with Málaga Director General Vicente Casado saying: “we are optimistic. There are no debts to players or teams.” Meanwhile, Rayo are still trying to pin down the future of manager Paco Jémez, and apparently have a verbal agreement on a deal. But like a number of clubs in la Primera this season, there may be distance between the kind of contract the manager would like and the sort that Rayo can afford. Not a big one, probably. LLL Prediction - Home win

Celta Vigo (19th) vs Barcelona (1st) - 18.00While the Celta Vigo bosses may have been hoped otherwise, the two week international break gave fans the opportunity to mull over their defeat to Deportivo. The disastrous 3-1 loss saw a sending off for headbutt-happy Iago Aspas, a smart move that sees Celta facing four matches without their suspended top scorer. Aspas will have suffered a fortnight of teammates telling him he’s a bit of an idiot, and to be fair, the striker doesn’t really have much of a defence to mount. “I don’t really know what happened,” admitted the Celta man on the clash of heads with Carlos Marchena, “some moments have been wiped out. I’m sorry for my teammates, for the fans, as it was a big game and we lost.” LLL Prediction - Away win

Zaragoza (17th) vs Real Madrid (2nd) - 20.00 The hosts haven’t won a game in 2013, have the worse home record in la Liga (three victories from 13), haven't scored in three matches, have failed to score in over half their league games and haven't had a goal scored from open play by a player not called Helder Postiga since January 4th. That player was Francisco Montañés, and it’s no wonder he sounds rather desperate ahead of the visit of Madrid, a side to whom they’ve conceded 10 goals in their last two meetings. “Everything is possible when you have faith, and we have it,” claimed the midfielder.LLL Prediction - Away win

Levante (11th) vs Sevilla (10th)- 22.00Levante's elimination from the Europa League at the hands of Rubin Kazan will see their season go one of two ways. They'll either fall into a bit of a slump and edge towards the relegation fight as one of those dark horses who end up going down, or pull their socks up into the appropriate positions and pick up the two wins or so needed to get to the 42 point mark, and maybe even make a late tilt for the European places. Levante boss, Juan Ignacio Jiménez, is leaning towards the latter. “I’m not looking for excuses but the Europa League took a lot out of us in every way. We paid for it in la Liga,” said JIM of Levante’s recent run of seven matches without a victory. However, should Levante get back into Europe for another mazy adventue, JIM may not be there sitting on the bench with the managing admitting that “I hope tomorrow a team with a big budget comes to my door.” Looking at la Liga’s finances, that visitor probably won’t be speaking Spanish. LLL Prediction - Home win

Sunday

Valladolid (12th) vs Osasuna (15th) - 12.00While it's currently all the rage to say that certain games are for ‘football hipsters’, this particular meeting is for those who have literally nothing better to do with their time. Valladolid are having a fine season, hidden away in mid-table, avoiding any fuss and nonsense, while Osasuna are on a bit of a bad run of three defeats, but this games screams of an aimless-hoof laden goalless draw that will just about keep everyone happy. However, Osasuna midfielder Sisi thinks three points are a dead cert for his side, and also joked that his team were probably better off without him, having just recovered from injury. “They didn’t miss me,” joked Sisi, noting that when he was playing, “we were last.”LLL Prediction - Goalless Draw

Mallorca (18th) vs Deportivo (20th) - 17.00La Liga Loca doesn’t want to sound mean (when sounding mean) but two weeks with Mallorca coach and sports psychology specialist, Gregorio Manzano, is probably going to feel like a veeeeeeeeery long time. Especially for footballers, who can usually only by coaxed into sitting still for longer than three minutes by being shown pictures of cars, ladies or ladies in cars. Or something really shiny. Manzano has used the international break to explain how he transformed his players from really bad, to not so bad in such a short space of time.The process began on day one of his third spell at the club at the beginning of February, when he showed the team a DVD of all the great moments in the club’s history. Not even LLL is mean enough to suggest there wasn't enough time to boil the kettle before the end credits were rolling. The aim was then to turn the players' fears into strengths because, as the Mallorca boss explains: “if anxiety is well-controlled, it’s positive. When the target is close and not too far away, anxiety can be positive as it’s something achievable.”Mallorca are on 24 points and need a whopper of a win against bottom-of-the-table Deportivo on Sunday. LLL Prediction - Draw

Espanyol (13th) vs Real Sociedad (4th) - 19.00One of the joys of having Javier Aguirre back in the league is the tremendous dirtiness his sides bring to the sport. The team currently lead the way in terms of fouls committed and yellow cards, with Argentinean defender Juan Forlín admitting “we play hard and we are a team that competes. No ball is lost, but we don’t go out in bad faith”. Despite now Espanyol looking safe after some very worrying moments before Aguirre took over at the end of November, Marca reports that no decision will be made on the Mexican's contract until the moment the Pericos are safe. LLL Prediction - Draw

Atlético Madrid (3rd) vs Valencia (5th) - 21.00 So, Patrick Ebert, if you're so happy playing for Valladolid, as claimed earlier this week, then why did you have lunch on Wednesday with Atlético Madrid Sporting Director, José Luis Pérez Caminero, in a restaurant near Segovia! Well? Explain yourself! To be fair, LLL doesn’t really care, but Marca (who uncovered this meeting) do, and so do Rojiblanco fans, who will probably appreciate having the German on the right flank as a challenge to the current omnipotence of Juanfran. LLL Prediction - Home win

Monday

Athletic Bilbao (14th) vs Granada (16th) - 20.00LLL was struggling to get excited about this particular encounter, which has a huge whiff of a 2-0 Athletic win about it, but the blog had no idea it was overlooking an event of galaxy-sized implications. “It’s the match of the year and we are playing for our lives,” yelled Athletic’s Andre Herrera, with his side an apparently perilous eight points from the relegation zone. “We can’t live in the past and the marvelous year we had. This is a transcendental, fundamental match,” claimed the midfielder. Granada are also getting in on the act of hyping up Monday’s game with Nolita coming to the very predictable conclusion that “from now on, every match is a final.”LLL Prediction - Home win (2-0)

Betis (7th) vs Getafe (8th) - 22.00You have a whole holiday weekend to schedule games, so what’s the logical move? Put the Betis home game on at 22.00 on a Monday night just to deny anyone unfortunate enough to have to get up early the next morning more than four hours sleep. Ludicrous. Anyway, Getafe go into the game on 42 points and having to decide whether they fancy a bit of a push for the European places or not. LLL has a feeling the team may not have a choice in the matter, as their very excellent keeper, Miguel Ángel Moyá, is out for a month after a muscle tear picked up in training. Jordi Codina is set to be between the sticks, instead. “This is not a test for me, I don’t have to prove anything,” retorted the former Real Madrid man.LLL Prediction - Home win

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