SaturdaySevilla (6th) vs AlmerÃÂa (15th)With four straight defeats and just one win in seven in la Liga, Sevilla suck royally at the moment.
Perhaps the only thing keeping coach Manolo JimÃÂ©nez in his job is the sideÃ¢ÂÂs half-decent Copa del Rey form and the intense media interest in club president JosÃÂ© Maria del NidoÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂluckyÃ¢ÂÂ hat he now wears for all of his sideÃ¢ÂÂs encounters in the competition.At least it gives them an extra reason to avoid other pertinent topics such as whether del NidoÃ¢ÂÂs impending corruption trial will have a negative impact on his ability to run Sevilla.Sevilla crushed Deportivo 3-0 in la Riazor on Tuesday night in their first leg quarter-final clash - a result that doesnÃ¢ÂÂt so much put the 6th placed-side in the driving seat for the tie but enables them to lounge about in the back and steer with their feet.The result also continues La Liga LocaÃ¢ÂÂs fine tipping prowess in the cup this season.
The predicted winners in the tournament so far as the rounds have gone by have been Real Madrid, Villarreal and Deportivo.
It is Getafe, next. Sorry Getafe.LLL Prediction - Home winValladolid (17th) vs Barcelona (1st)Not even BarÃÂ§a-barmy Mundo Deportivo could fake a happy-clappy response to Pep Guardiola announcing that he had agreed to stay on as coach at the Camp Nou for another season.Ã¢ÂÂGuardiola breaks under the pressureÃ¢ÂÂ said the paperÃ¢ÂÂs editorial at the news that Pep had finally given in to Joan Laporta's constant grovels and pleas to hang about for another campaign.With a face resembling someone who had just been told they had picked up something nasty downstairs, the Barcelona manager revealed that he had been given his motivation not from the thought of another year at the helm of the smuggest club in the world but that he had to Ã¢ÂÂend all the speculation as it was getting intolerable.Ã¢ÂÂWith Pep refusing to officially sign his deal until the new BarÃÂ§a president is known, the Dream Boys' boss has left himself plenty of wiggle-room to change his mind or repeat the whole tedious speculation process in 12 months before moving to Manchester United.Ã¢ÂÂI feel that the coach of Barcelona has to have short contracts,Ã¢ÂÂ noted Pep as way of explanation.
His enthusiasm spilled over into ThursdayÃ¢ÂÂs training session with his response to his clapping players.Ã¢ÂÂLess applause and more running, IÃ¢ÂÂve not signed anything,Ã¢ÂÂ was how Marca reported PepÃ¢ÂÂs greeting to the squadÃ¢ÂÂs warm hand on his entrance.Still, the King of Catalunya doesnÃ¢ÂÂt seem to mind with his constant nagging having prevailed and the club having won their eighth trophy in a row.
Ã¢ÂÂThe 2-6 [over Real Madrid] was the seventh,Ã¢ÂÂ explained Laporta in case anyone was confused.LLL Prediction - Away winDeportivo (5th) vs Athletic Bilbao (7th)It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt an easy business at all making an accurate voodoo representation of an entire football stadium along with its players, coaches, kit-men and cleaning staff but the process was well worth the effort.La Liga Loca finally completed its stunning example of black magic at its finest at the end of November and since that point (and an awful lot of frantic pin jabbing) horrible Deportivo have been in shocking form having achieved just one victory in six in la Liga with three lonely, pathetic goals.Feeling enthused, the blog will now be taking orders from readers for new footballing voodoo targets for a large, but excellent value fee.LLL Prediction - DrawSundayTenerife (18th) vs Valencia (3rd)With press attention momentarily sated by Pep GuardiolaÃ¢ÂÂs non-signing of his non-contract, the glare of the spotlight now turns to Valencia where Unai Emery will be young, free and single come June.ThatÃ¢ÂÂs unless his bosses dig around the back of the club sofa and find some money to reward a young whippersnapper who has ignored the countless changes in presidents and sporting directors, avoided the usual inter-squad bickering, got Miguel to turn up for training from time to time and looks like leading the team back into the Champions League.WhatÃ¢ÂÂs more, Emery has even got the backing of the notoriously grumpy old goat David Albeda, a true miracle in these bleak times, indeed.Ã¢ÂÂWhoever is in charge of renewing him shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt just look at whether we are in the Champions League or not, but should believe in the work he is doing,Ã¢ÂÂ opined the midfielder.LLL Prediction - Away winSporting (9th) vs Racing (13th)Pity poor Michu. The midfielder began January stuck at going-nowhere-at-the-speed-of-Arizmendi Celta Vigo and he looks like ending the month that way.But Michu was so, so close to a move to the bright lights of Sporting who offered the lanky one a deal.
Unfortunately, Michu was born and raised in the ranks of local rivals Oviedo, meaning that the footballer was under a certain amount of Ã¢ÂÂpressureÃ¢ÂÂ - the threatening nature of which is disputed - from the supporters of his old club not to make the move.Ã¢ÂÂIt was a decision that I was not 100 percent convinced by,Ã¢ÂÂ said Michu after the collapse of the transfer.
Ã¢ÂÂLoyalty doesnÃ¢ÂÂt have a price, Michu. Thank youÃ¢ÂÂ read a banner from Oviedo supporters last weekend that Ã¢ÂÂcongratulatedÃ¢ÂÂ the player on his stance.LLL Prediction - DrawVillarreal (10th) vs Zaragoza (19th)The normally sturdy patience of Villarreal president Fernando Roig shattered into a billion pieces like a bar stool supporting Maniche this week.Roig has been dismayed by VillarrealÃ¢ÂÂs awful form in both la Liga and the cup exit to Celta Vigo and was reported in Marca to have told his players that Ã¢ÂÂthey have got to change their attitudeÃ¢ÂÂ after three league matches without a win.Meanwhile, Robert Pires has been having a bit of moan about his lack of action in la Liga this season.
The 47-year-old Frenchman did not start the last clash against Valencia and complained that Ã¢ÂÂthe coach isnÃ¢ÂÂt picking me and thereÃ¢ÂÂs nothing I can do about it.Ã¢ÂÂApart from whine, perhaps?LLL Prediction - Home winXerez (20th) vs Osasuna (12th)The blog had a rare spring in its step this week, as perhaps the finest mullet seen in la Liga in a good 10 years joined the Primera party.The Ã¢ÂÂice-hockey hairÃ¢ÂÂ - as it is known in Sweden - hero is new Xerez boss Nestor Gorosito, the former River Plate manager that our man behind enemy lines, Argie Bargy, notes was less than successful at his former club.
"Whadda you mean 'Is it real'?"
The manager is joining the incredibly doomed club until the end of the season but is having his wages paid directly by XerezÃ¢ÂÂs new owners, with a judge in charge of the institutionÃ¢ÂÂs administration process ruling that Xerez themselves cannot afford his rather generous Ã¢ÂÂ¬575,000 salary.
LLL Prediction - DrawEspanyol (14th) vs Mallorca (4th)ThereÃ¢ÂÂs been a whiff of scandal in the air in Prat-land with chain-smoking club president DÃÂ¡niel SÃÂ¡nchez-Llibre facing accusations of naughtiness from newspaper El Publico over invoicing and commission Ã¢ÂÂdiscrepanciesÃ¢ÂÂ from the transfer of Sergio to Deportivo in 2001.The Espanyol president reportedly... (LLL checks his copy of UK Libel Law for Dummies - canÃ¢ÂÂt say that, or that. Definitely not that. Oh dear).Struggling Espanyol are looking to pick up three much-needed points against high flying Mallorca in a clash that.....LLL Prediction - Home winGetafe (8th) vs AtlÃÂ©tico (11th)At about 11.52 last night, La Liga Loca jabbed at its stopwatch. The latest AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid revival had lasted approximately a week-and-a-half.The Rojiblancos were facing second division side Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Cup clash in the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n and were blooming lucky to get away with 1-1 draw against their teeny, tiny opponents.Ã¢ÂÂThey miraculously got a draw they didnÃ¢ÂÂt deserve,Ã¢ÂÂ sniffed El PaÃÂs with Marca noting that Celta Ã¢ÂÂhanded a lesson to an AtlÃÂ©tico who just donÃ¢ÂÂt learn.Ã¢ÂÂQuique SÃÂ¡nchez-Flores was back adopting his familiar defensive position complaining that Ã¢ÂÂit was a crazy game, I didnÃ¢ÂÂt like anything about it... there was mistakes of every kind.Ã¢ÂÂLLL Prediction - Home win
Real Madrid (2nd) vs MÃÂ¡laga (16th)For those wondering how much it would cost to get Guti and his buddies to turn up and potter about on your local pitch for 90 minutes, the answer is about Ã¢ÂÂ¬2.5 million.ThatÃ¢ÂÂs what Albanian oil tycoon Rezart TaÃÂ§i reportedly forked out for Madrid to play local giants Gramozi Erseke in the TaÃÂ§i Oil Cup in Tirana on Wednesday night.Naturally, construction company owner Florentino PÃÂ©rez accompanied the party to a nation looking to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure, with Marca reporting in glowing terms that MadridÃ¢ÂÂs president Ã¢ÂÂis also an idol in Albania.Ã¢ÂÂ
However the 'fly in, pick up the bags of cash, befriend the Ã¢ÂÂtranslatorÃ¢ÂÂ ladies, thrash the hapless locals and fly out' again plan didnÃ¢ÂÂt quite work with the half-time period at the encounter lasting nearly two hours after a power cut.When the-delighted-to-be-there players did reappear for the second half, they grabbed the second goal of the night - after conceding in the first minute - to stuff Gramozi 2-1.Ã¢ÂÂIt was a match we had to play and we did it,Ã¢ÂÂ said an enthusiastic Lassana Diarra the morning after the night before.Although it was not the best of evenings for MadridÃ¢ÂÂs players, it was a great one for the journalists as all returned safely to Spain from a country that can be rather hostile for their more local colleagues.
Especially those reporting on stories about the oil industry.LLL Prediction - Home win
You can join LLL live at the Bernabeu from 20.45 CET on Sunday and see if Kaka and Benzema can perform miracles...by actually scoring goals. And not against Albanian sides, either.
------------------------------------------------FourFourTwo.com: More to read...