The Vote-Rigging Weekend Predictions - Round 19

SaturdayBarcelona (1st) vs Deportivo (7th)Joan Laporta’s dastardly plan to expand his evil empire from Catalunya to the rest of the globe had been going rather well. Football fans all over the world are throwing petals before the fancy feet of the Barcelona players and toppling statues of their former rulers. Everyone - except FIFA, and the French - were declaring that Messi was the real top dog of the global game. “I’m a man of the people,” declared Laporta, fooling no one. “Those who truly enjoy football chose Messi.” But, this week, there was the slightest of speed bumps in Laporta’s footballing fast line - the news that Barça will have to 'cup ‘em and cough' and shell out 57 million euro to a TV company. The cash is income that Sogecable say is due from the club’s international matches between 2003 to 2008. ‘Not so’, say Barcelona who will fight the judicial decision that sent the club’s bean counters barking. But that’s not where the festival of fines ended for the Catalan club.

Barca were given a slap on the wrist and a bill for 4,000 euro by the newly-pumped up Spanish FA for allowing three beer cans into the ground during the Mallorca clash a fortnight ago - news that may give eagle-eyed Espanyol fans an idea or two on how to bankrupt their Barcelona brothers in the upcoming Copa del Rey clash. LLL Prediction - Home winSevilla (3rd) vs Numancia (15th)La Liga Loca has just stuck its head out the window to sniff the scent in the air stream from Andalusia. For the record, the blog has an uncannily keen sense of smell. Which is unfortunate when considering the barrio it lives in. A week ago, manager Manolo Jiménez was on his way out of Sevilla after being bullied by boorish fans who claimed that they would rather watch Betis that a somnambulant Sevilla these days. But thanks to a terrific triple crown against Deportivo in the league and cup - and an 8-2 margin in Sevilla’s favour over the three ties - Manolo is a safe as any manager ever can be in La Liga. Unfortunately for his opposite number over the less than testing ties, the defeat streak has sent Miguel Angel Lotina back to his cave of doom to contemplate the misery of the human condition.

“There are days when it’s better not to even get up,” sighed La Liga’s Marvin after the midweek cup defeat. LLL Prediction - Home win SundayVillarreal (6th) vs Mallorca (19th)It’s a new day, so it’s a new president for moneyless Mallorca - a club that is changing its head more often than an ADD-afflicted Worzel Gummidge.Parking his posterior in the inflatable chair at the Ono Estadi is, former president, Mateo Alemany, who has the unenviable task of fixing the club’s financial affairs and making Mallorca a viable product to hawk to the few remaining non-bankrupt businessmen in Britain. “All the information we have indicates that the situation is serious,” chin-stroked Alemany after discovering that his presidential predecessor had used all of Mallorca’s furniture - and Germán Lux - for firewood. LLL Prediction - Home winReal Madrid (2nd) vs Osasuna (20th)At time of writing, the Gollum-like Ramón Calderón is still clinging to his presidential throne with screams of ‘my precious’ wafting down the Castellana. But the situation at the club remains ‘fluid’ - or even ‘sticky’ if Calderón fights through Friday and faces what could be an entertainingly hostile crowd against Osasuna. As a cartoon portraying Calderón on the phone in Marca’s Friday edition puts it, “Nanín, one more favour, find me 80,000 false fans for the Bernabeu on Sunday.” Because of all this corruption kerfuffle, the news was almost drowned out that Madrid had lost their appeal to UEFA over their desire to play both Huntelaar and Diarra in the Champions League.The blog wrote last week that the club’s cunning strategy of stamping its feet and shouting “its not fair!” failed to work at the initial hearing on the affair. Unfortunately for Madridistas everywhere, the ingenious tactic of bursting into tears and door-slamming also failed to curry favour with European football’s Masters of the Universe.  LLL Prediction - Home win Getafe (13th) vs Racing (12th)It had looked like the last ever sighting of El Pato for Getafe fans would be the goalkeeper waddling off having seen red against Numancia last Sunday as a move to Boca looks set to be sealed over the next few days. However, the Getafe keeper has been given a reprieve with The Man reversing what was a fairly harsh red card in Soria, allowing the ever-entertaining Argentine a fond farewell on Sunday. And the chance for one last desperate, striker-fouling dash from his penalty area. LLL Prediction - DrawRecreativo (17th) vs Sporting (9th)In the blog’s first News from Sweden of the year, the blog brings you the story that clearly bored researchers at a Scandinavian university will have to look for ‘udder’ alternatives in their bovine studies. So says“Data gathered during Sweden’s mid-December earthquake shows that cows in SkÃ¥ne barely noticed the shaking beneath their feet, disappointing researchers who suspected the animals had an innate ability to detect natural disasters.

Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) had hoped that sensors placed on a number of cows from a herd in southern Sweden would reveal interesting clues about how the animals behave before and during the quake which shook southern Sweden the morning of the December 16.But the cows’ advanced GPS sensors and animal monitoring devices didn’t produce very compelling results.”LLL Prediction - DrawValladolid (10th) vs Betis (16th)With news of the club’s potential buy-out having dribbled into an insignificant abyss, the only thing resembling news from De Lopera-land this week was the bench-based sniping between Xisco - upset at being substituted against Malaga - and manager Paco Chaparro. But that was closed off with a hefty fine from Darth de Lopera and a stern word from his manager. LLL Prediction - Home winMálaga (8th) vs Espanyol (18th)There was almost certainly a cheery chuckle of delight from, Málaga owner, Lorenzo Sanz this week as he heard the stories of skullduggering drifting down from Real Sociedad.AS have written that his arch nemisisisisisis and chief-finger pointer in the match fixing allegations, Iñaki Badiola, president of La Real, has been charged by authorities over his involvement in a 20 million euro fraud at the club over the non-payment of VAT since 2001. It’s a crime that could see bad boy Badiola sent to the slammer, says the paper, along with former boss and current league president José Luis Astiazarán. At least he will have a bit more time to get the fixture list out each week. LLL Prediction - Home win

Athletic (11th) vs Valencia (4th)After several years sulking around with a face like thunder suffering complete misery at Mestalla, the immensely likeable Joaquín has finally returned to his familiar cheeky-chappy self after a good first half to the season under Unai Emery. "I believe that, right now, I am enjoying myself and clearing all those things from my head that, when stuff is not going well, starts to bother me," beamed the winger who is hoping for a return to the Spanish national squad. LLL Prediction - Away winAlmería (14th) vs Atlético (5th)The good news for Atlético fans is that club president Enrique Cerezo will be packing his bags next week and leaving the Spanish capital. The bad news is that he is coming back. Cerezo is leading a delegation to Dubai in the hunt for a bit of spare change, say AS, to help restock the club’s canteen that has been decimated by Maniche since the announcement of his two-match suspension. Atleti’s road trip will also be used to raise awareness of the club in the region - and, more worryingly, the existence of Kun Agüero - with a series of meetings set to include a session with Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Kaka-coveting owner of Manchester City. However, before the trip is made, La Liga Loca’s eternally unreliable Atleti insider says that Cerezo will have to poke Javier Aguirre down the plank of doom should there be abject failure in Almería on Sunday night. LLL Prediction - Away win

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