SaturdayAtlÃÂ©tico Madrid (4th) v Recreativo (16th)With the rojiblancos mired in their second-worst closing half of the season since 2002, the president admitting off-mic that his players are pants and Pablo IbaÃÂ±ez confessing that his tottering team-mates are tired little bunnies after a 52 game season, Aguirre's avengers are going to need the stirring support of the home crowd like never before on Saturday night.The problem with that cunning plan is that the CalderÃÂ³n catcallers are pricklier than a pre-menstrual porcupine and will be on the backs of the players quicker than you can shout "tackle him, you dozy tw*ts!" to the Atleti midfield.An endearingly optimistic RaÃÂºl GarcÃÂa says that things will be different against Recreativo pointing out that "people who boo us are throwing stones against their own roof."
Home win. Zaragoza (18th) v Deportivo (7th)With the reality of second division football starting to become a scary prospect for some teams, talk of mysterious win bonuses is all the rage in Spain once again. There have been rumblings all week that Deportivo's squad have been offered special incentives by their relegation rivals to give it a proper go against Zaragoza - and that's all fine and dandy for at least one member of the Depor team. "It all seems ok to me. I wouldn't listen to bonuses to lose a game, as that's not professional," said Juan RodrÃÂquez reassuringly whilst thumbing through a conservatory catalogue.
Home win. SundaySevilla (6th) v Valladolid (14th)The stereotype-loving La Liga Loca reckons that an unemotional Andalusian may well be rarer that a vegetarian in Vigo. Whilst a steely gaze and Teutonic toughness was needed by Manolo JimÃÂ©nez over the past two matches, the Sevilla boss has been wailing and whining on the touchline like a flatulence-infested flamenco dancer watching his team's league campaign collapse faster than a Jesus GÃÂl apartment block. If Sevilla are to close the three point gap over AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid some time soon then Manolo is going to have to show some Bernd Schuster-esque backbone.
Draw.AlmerÃÂa (8th) v Betis (12th)The big clunking fist of Spanish sporting justice slammed down hard on Real Betis this week. Not really. Despite another bottle being thrown at an opposition player last Sunday, Betis had their home stadium ban reduced to just one by an appeals board this week. And with survival after another year of Primera panic almost assured, the Betico's have chosen to see out their sentence next Wednesday when they will face the mighty Valladolid at La Cartuja.And to make sure that the city's Olympic stadium is still a home from home for the Betis boys, the squad had a fine time training there on Thursday. Tough Justice.
Draw.Villarreal (2nd) v Getafe (13th)Whilst Villarreal have spent the week claiming that they ain't gonna be nobody's footballing butt monkeys by rolling over and handing the title to Real Madrid on Sunday, Getafe are more concerned with grabbing the three magic points that will keep them up. And David CortÃÂ©s says that the Coliseum cavaliers will be going out all guns blazing to get them. Sort of. "We'll take a draw," confessed the defender.
Home win.Levante (20th) v Espanyol (9th)Whilst enjoying the holiday summer sun in La Latina on Thursday, La Liga Loca watched a street performer whose act was to put on a red nose and walk behind passers by mimicking them. And it set the blog thinking what would happen to him if he tried it in Grantham.
Home win. Athletic Bilbao (11th) v Mallorca (10th)La Liga Loca simply cannot understand why anyone would want to ever leave Mallorca. Few expectations of greatness (very appealing), decent weather and enough beach bars to keep Patrick Kluivert busy for decades. But it seems that Gregorio Manzano may be crossing the Med to join the Mestalla madhouse - "we cannot stop it," admitted Mallorca president, VicenÃÂ§ Grande. And he could be joined in the departures lounge by keeper Miguel Angel Moya, who has been linked with a move to the Spanish capital. And he is more than happy about it. "I'm delighted that they say in Madrid that AtlÃÂ©tico want me," chirped the Balearic stopper.
Home win. Racing Santander (5th) v Murcia (19th)It seems that Christmas has come early in Sweden according to thelocal.se"If Santa can make it down a chimney, then I can probably manage a garbage chute." Or so a 20-year-old Swedish man might have been thinking when he tried to surprise his sister early Tuesday morning.But the man proved himself less adept at navigating tight spaces than jolly old Saint Nick.The 20-year-old was discovered wedged in a garbage chute, reports local media in the ski resort town of ÃÂ re in north-western Sweden.rÃ¢ÂÂHe was able to get his head and shoulders through, but then he got stuck. He was dangling there when the sister, who wasnÃ¢ÂÂt home at the time, returned about 15 minutes later,Ã¢ÂÂ said Bengt Larsson, an emergency worker with the ÃÂ re fire department to the TT news agency.Using an iron bar, some clippers, and sledgehammer, it took emergency workers about half an hour to pry the man loose."
Home win. Barcelona (3rd) v Valencia (15th)Despite bragging that he was leaving the club in fine financial fettle, former bulging presidential bigwig Juan Bautista Soler has left a hole in the club's finances bigger than his belly. The word on the footballing street is that every single player in the club's bloated 37 man squad will sport 'for sale' signs around their necks, this summer. The men from Mestalla are set for 'two years in purgatory', according to Marca, having blown 50 million euros on signings and 9 million in managers this year alone. On top of this sensational sum, Valencia is also forking out a cool 350 million euros on a new stadium which is set to be ready in 2010.
Home win. Osasuna (17th) v Real Madrid (1st)Another club with monetary matters on their mind is Real Madrid. This week, AS reported that the club paid 200,000 euros to the city council to cover the cost of putting up and taking down the structural protection for the Cibeles fountain celebratory point last weekend in the most expensive unused erection since Ronaldo.And it's a hefty fee that will be repeated when Bernd Schuster's men fail to overcome Osasuna on Sunday night. Or so says Javad Nekounam. "They aren't going to be champions here," growled the midfielder hurling his pike into the Pamplonan turf.
Draw. You can catch Tim Stannard changing his last prediction to an away win on Real Madrid TV gabfest, Extra Time. 22.05 UK time and repeated over the weekend on Skydigital channel 446.