The Midday Kick-off Weekend Predictions


Villarreal (3rd) Valencia (4th)There’s going to be a moving, flower-petalled, violin-filled reunion in El Madrigal on Saturday when World Cup Portuguese pugilist Ricardo Costa comes a-callin'.

The Valencia defender and his Spanish counterpart Joan Capdevila had a bit of tiff and taff in their last-sixteen World Cup clash, with the Villarreal full-back taking a tumble to get his opponent sent off and subsequently banned for three games by FIFA.

“I never touched him,” claims Costa, recalling the moment for AS and suggesting that he may be out for a bit of revenge this weekend. “I would love to score and dedicate the goal to him,” sighs the Valencia man. LLL Prediction - Home win

Almería (18th) v Barcelona (2nd)More than just a club? Maybe. But just as greedy as Real Madrid - that’s the opinion of seven Primera sides who formally told Barça and their buddies in the Spanish capital where they could shove the TV deal being offered by the pair from the 2015 campaign onwards.

The ever so generous rights carve-up sees the big two giving up a small portion of the total percentage of the pot from the one they have at the moment, but still receiving between €140m-€150m a year compared to the €22.5m lucky old Almería would be paid, for example.

Espanyol CEO Joan Collet sums up the general feeling in the stalled talks by claiming that “I have no doubt that in the next five, 10 or 15 years Madrid and Barça will keep on winning the league.”LLL Prediction - Away win. Of course

Real Madrid (1st) v Athletic Bilbao (8th)The somewhat self-obsessed Madrid and Barcelona sports media only notice other clubs when their two beloved sides take time out from bickering with each other to lower themselves into playing them - or want to buy their shiniest stars. So it’s time for Marca and AS to poke around Athletic Bilbao and their wonderfully whimsical “Basque-only, have a ‘K’ in your surname? Oh, you’ll do!” policy.

This week, Marca dragged Athletic president Fernando García Macua to Capital City, where he explained patiently that he had no intention of changing the direction of the club, noting (with some pride and pomp, the blog imagines) that his side currently supplies the captains of Spain’s U-21, U-19 and U17 teams. Macau also insisted that he wouldn’t be selling Fernando Llorente, either, not that this has lessened the hype in the Madrid papers this week – hype that will miraculously die down once Athletic have left town.LLL Prediction - Home win


Osasuna (12th) v Sporting (17th)It was reported in Monday’s edition of Marca that Sporting manager Manuel Preciado had grabbed his groin and thrown a bottle at the Real Madrid coach in response to a two-fingered gesture from José Mourinho after Sunday’s cantankerous clash in El Molinón.

The next day Preciado swore to journalists on his son’s life that he did neither of the two alleged acts. Which means that someone is lying. LLL wonders who it could be?

The follow-through, as it were, from the whole insane affair sees the FA’s curiously-named Anti-Violence Commission charging both coaches for h“creating a hostile atmosphere” ahead of last Sunday’s clash with their war of words.

Marca have jumped the shark a tad with Friday's front-cover response – a recreation of Goya’s Dos de Mayo painting that portrays their beloved José Mourinho in front of a firing squad.

Meanwhile AS editor Alfredo Relaño moans that charging both with the same offence gives “a false pretense of equality. When charging Preciado (for calling Mourinho ‘low-life’) they felt obliged to throw the book at Mourinho too (for saying Sporting fielded a weakened team in their Barcelona clash).

Phew. And it isn’t even El Clásico week. LLL Prediction - Away win

Espanyol (6th) v Hércules (13th)Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart have been joined by former teammate Royston Drenthe in the admittedly fairly small “Dutch midfielders rejected by Real Madrid but who are doing quite well for themselves since” club.

‘Ricky’ has been in exceptional form since the start of his loan move to Hércules, and scored with a cracking free-kick last weekend to beat Real Sociedad. The winger then received a call-up to the Dutch senior side for the first time and even got 10 minutes of trotting about - and falling over once or twice, no doubt - in the friendly against Turkey. LLL Prediction - Home win (1-0)

Levante (19th) v Racing Santander (14th)Curiously, Racing’s Swedish striker Markus Rosenberg has taken the fifth-most shots at goal in la Primera so far this season, putting him just behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi, Guiseppe Rossi and David Villa.

Rosenberg has apparently had 39 bangs in the direction of the opposition goal in nine league games. The slight problem is that the Racing man has only scored two of them - three if you count that shot that flew off his back against Real Madrid. LLL Prediction - Away win (Rosenberg hat-trick)

Deportivo (15th) v Málaga (16th)“Doomed, doomed, doomed!” was the vibe from Wednesday’s Marca. They claimed that Deportivo president Augusto Lendoiro was going to ditch the manager, Lord of Misery Miguel Angel Lotina, at the end of the season, having suffered ‘being lectured for an hour on the club’s philosophy by a Barcelona fan’ levels of tedium watching Depor’s 5-5-0 formation for the past couple of seasons.

Lotina’s response to the speculation was, as to be expected, distinctly non-chirpy. “Three weeks ago, I was packing my bags,” sighed la Liga’s version of Marvin the Paranoid Android. “But now... I’m not fussed. Let’s see what happens in May.”

“Life? Don’t talk to me about life,” added the Deportivo manager when asked for his thoughts on Málaga’s revival under Manuel Pellegrini. LLL Prediction - Draw

Sevilla (5th) v Mallorca (10th)Alvaro Negredo still continues to make friends all over Spain with his wrist-kissing celebrations, faking fouls to get opponents sent off and getting himself red-carded when most needed by his side.

At Zaragoza last weekend, the Sevilla striker scored in the final minutes of the game to further cement the love the home fans have for him in their hearts - a romance that began when he reportedly agreed to join the Aragonese outfit before heading south to the city of Seville in 2009.

“It’s not nice that people want you to die,” noted Negredo on his La Romareda reception, “but never mind... my way of responding was with a goal.”LLL Prediction  - Home win

Real Sociedad (9th) v Atlético Madrid (7th)In a move that would very much delight the more-of-a-morning person LLL, AS are reporting that Atlético are contemplating midday kick-offs on a Sunday from January.

It's an attempt to cash in on the Asian market, what with the Rojiblancos' big men in big suits having signed partnership deals in China, Thailand and most recently of all the UAE. “This continent [Asia, obviously not Europe - Economics Ed.] is the solution for economic problems of the future,” notes Atleti columnist Manuel Esteban.

And after another Almería-like inept performance, matches finishing at two in the afternoon will also give the Calderón Massive extra bonus drinkie time to drown their sorrows. LLL Prediction - Home win


Getafe (11th) v Zaragoza (20th)Due to a bit of a lapse in sanity that saw LLL actually believing what came out of a club president’s gob, it mistakenly gave the impression in Wednesday’s update that Zaragoza coach José Aurelio Gay was safe in his position until at least next week.

“There won’t be any change with Gay,” claimed Zaragoza president and owner Agapito Iglesias on Monday. “We must keep on having patience. Aurelio will be on the bench next Monday [against Getafe]. And on Tuesday.”

So of course, the coach was fired two days later with former Osasuna, Atlético and Mexico coach, flat-top king Javier Aguirre, back in business and given a contract till the end of the season to save the skins of the bottom-of-the-table team. LLL Prediction - Draw