The Shoulder-Rubbing, Hércules-Baiting Weekend La Liga Predictions

Saturday

Málaga (16th) v Athletic Bilbao (8th)

One of the strangest interview moments in LLL’s long, painful career was attempting to speak to Julio Baptista many moons ago. The blog asked the Brazilian beast who he felt was the player of the year in la Liga. Baptista gave LLL a bit of a rub on the shoulder said he would think about it before wandering off.

The blog is still waiting for the answer. And it might well get it as Baptista is back in Spain after a holiday in Serie A and has ended up at Málaga along with four other footballers and counting.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Sociedad (11th) v Sevilla (10th)

Whilst Sevilla winning not one but two games of football in a week with the cup victory over Málaga adding to the narrow passage against Osasuna will certainly be considered a very good thing by supporters, the return to action of Sergio Sánchez must surely be a very, very, very, very good thing indeed.

A year ago, the defender was diagnosed with a heart problem that forced him out of the game immediately with thoughts of the tragic fates of former teammate Dani Jarque and Sevilla star, Antonio Puerta very much in mind.

Happily, an operation seems to have fixed the coronary issue with Sánchez having been given the go ahead to return to training at the end of December and potentially playing in a month or two. “I just wish that Jarque had the same chance,” said Sánchez when the wonderful news of his return came through.

Meanwhile in San Sebastian, eight Real Sociedad players could be walking themselves into hot water by attending a proposed match in support of repatriating ETA prisoners to Basque prisons.

“Would they promote a march in favour of rapists, abusers, drug traffickers or pedophiles?” asked a statement released by the Association of the Victims of Terrorism.

“Any member of Real Sociedad has the freedom to participate in any act according to their ideology...without the assumption that the organisation and its member support the act, too,” was the response from the Federation of Real Sociedad Fan Groups.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Deportivo (12th) v Barcelona (1st)

Pep Guardiola knew that a Copa Del Rey exit might be coming the Dream Boys’ way on Wednesday with the Athletic Bilbao tie goalless from the first leg. “Even the LA Lakers lose sometimes,” warned the expectation-managing coach.

As it happens it was like Maniche putting on his trousers for the first time after Christmas and the tightest of squeezes with Barça relying on away goals to pass through after a 1-1 draw.

Meanwhile, back in La Coruña, striker Adrián is the talk of the town by breaking recent Deportivo tradition with his fancy goal getting ways. The forward bagged two against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend and three against Cordobá in a cup clash that needed extra time to ease Dull Depor through.

Nevertheless, there’s no reason to get too excited just yet about a thrills and spills revival in Galicia as three of those goals were penalties, one was a deflected shot giving Adrián just the one proper goal according to LLL’s largely biased calculations.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Sunday

Mallorca (9th) v Almería (19th)

What better way to do a prediction for Mallorca v Almería than by watching Mallorca v Almería which it is doing at the moment in the Copa del Rey. Spooky.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Osasuna (15th) v Getafe (7th)

As LLL is a go-getting, thinking in advance kind of blog, it is writing this wee preview about the Getafe match on a bank holiday Thursday afternoon. Whilst watching Getafe. Oh yes.

In a fine experiment, the club’s Coliseum clash against Betis in the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie was scheduled at midday. And a rip roaring success it seems to be, too, with around 11,000 in the stands including some 500 already fairly ‘vivacious’ Betis fans. It’s an attendance that’s a good six or seven thousand more than would have come to a game kicking off at 10pm, an hour that it still a regular occurrence for midweek fixtures.

At the moment, in the opening minutes of the second half, Getafe are getting battered by Betis - as they have been for much of the game. But, the score is still goalless with Getafe 2-1 up in the tie. Let’s see if that lasts.

It didn’t. Betis grabbed three, Getafe got one back but it was all too late. Betis 4-3 winners on aggregate and set to face Barcelona in the next round which kicks off next week, not that anyone knows the day or time of the games at time of writing.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Espanyol (5th) v Zaragoza (18th)

This time last year struggling Zaragoza brought in seven new players in the window window - a mastermind move that kept the Aragonese outfit in the top-flight. The problem now is that struggling Zaragoza may not be able to repeat the same nifty move.

In a deal done between the Spanish League and the Players’ union, any clubs which owe money to any footballers may not sign anyone else until that debt is either paid or a deal is done between the two parties. Unless the club in question is in administration, which lets the IOU-collecting Mallorca off the hook, strangely enough.

Zaragoza currently owe former goalkeeper, Javier López Vallejo €150,000 and the super stopper wants it right now, meaning that Javier Aguirre may well be stuck with the collection of half-wits and misfits he’s got in his squad until May.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Racing Santander (14th) v Sporting (20th)

It is quite touching really, but it seems that Sporting president, Manuel Vega-Arango, genuinely doesn’t want to sack Manuel Preciado. And it’s hard not to see why considering how brilliant the moustache-sporting magician has been to the club in his five or so years there having brought them up to the top flight after nearly a decade in oblivion - well, la Segunda which is as close as it gets - and kept them there.But, defeat to Racing on Sunday would leave Vega-Arango running a bottom of the table team and with no choice but to fire Preciado although he did promise that “there’s no deadline.” This leaves LLL in bit of a quandary. The blog dearly wants a Sporting victory, but its hopeless predicting prowess means that it may have to forecast the opposite for this whopper of a clash. LLL Prediction- Home winReal Madrid (2nd) v Villarreal (3rd)Rather than worrying about what Real Madrid were going to do all season without Gonzalo Higuaín who is set for back surgery and with Karim Benzema - one league goal, thank you very much - Marca have attempted a bizarre diversion tactic which has the aim of avoiding topics such as José Mourinho being right in the summer about needing another forward and Florentino Pérez and Jorge Valdano being very, very wrong. The club has got its panties in the biggest of bunches about the notion that Higuaín would be traveling abroad for his operation and launched a ludicrous and yet quite surreal “in defence of Spanish medicine” campaign by listing the names of doctors who could perform the necessary treatment on the Argentinean striker. And that got the blog a’thinkin’ what the root cause of the campaign was. Some kind of freebie for the paper’s editor sprung to mind, a new brain perhaps, but then it realised the obvious - Spanish sports medicine has been beneficial for a number of the country’s most famous athletes. Especially its cyclists. And runners. No wonder Higuaín is heading to foreign shores.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Levante (17th) v Valencia (17th)

Levante against Real Madrid on Thursday night: worse than a testimonial, practice match and friendly at the same time. Fact.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Monday

Hércules (13th) v Atlético Madrid (13th)

It isn’t the club president that Hércules winger, Royston Drenthe, should feel most upset at. Nor even the supporters who met him with insults at the airport on his arrival back in Alicante in the new year and those who painted vicious threats on the walls of his house.

It’s Drenthe’s teammates, and especially his manager Esteban Vigo, who have been nothing but spiteful and backstabbing in their treatment of him, whilst the Dutchman was away from the club in protest of receiving one wage packet in six months.

“We are all owed money, probably more than him, but I’m here and there’s no problem,” scoffed Vigo. “Maybe that’s because you are a gutless, yes-man buffoon and Ricky Drenthe actually has some stones,” is LLL’s reply.

LLL Prediction - Away win (hopefully)

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