The Weekend’s Baby Making Predictions - Round 24

SaturdayBarcelona (1st) vs Espanyol (20th)Joan ‘Joan’ Laporta’s ongoing Uzbek activity caused enough of a seedy stir in Barcelona for the King of Catalunya to come down off his throne and explain away his Tashkent tales. Earlier in the week, El Mundo had discovered that Laporta’s law firm had sealed a deal last summer where they would help an Uzbek company buy the majority shareholding in Mallorca. Around about the same time, and by pure coincidence, two Barcelona players and His Majesty himself made trips to the Uzbek capital to help promote the good name of the club. And certainly not Laporta’s business interests, as some more cynical types may have suggested. The other big issue in this fishy affair is whether it is a particularly smart idea for the president of one Primera club to be involved in the sale of another. But luckily for everyone, Laporta declared that his firm merely “found a client who made an offer” for the Balearic club. “This job had no incompatibility with my role at Barcelona,” declared the culé King.

And who decided this, one might ask? His own ‘what’s a conflict of interest?’ office. LLL Prediction - Home winReal Madrid (2nd) vs Betis (15th)This week, La Liga Loca decided to do some actual gumshoe, you-got-24 hours-to-break-the-story reporting. For about 15 minutes anyway, which is actually good going for a blog that thinks a source is something you put on mince. La Liga Loca went along to a press conference held by ‘Etica Madridista’ - a Real Madrid opposition group made up of members and super socios or ‘compromisarios’. What the blog suspected might be an event attended by a handful of irate, squat men in their fifties ended up being attended by around 600 irate, squat men in their fifties.

Or so they said on TV. La Liga Loca had long since gone, remembering that it had to catch another episode of Smallville and Clark Kent staring wistfully out of his barn window with David Gray playing in the background. One of the many, many topics that the gaggle of red-faced, taxi-driving ham addicts is very unhappy about is the millions the club is blowing on paying off departing staff. This week, one suit, Miguel Angel Arroyo, decided to take early retirement - to avoid being kicked out, some papers say - and a reported 600,000 euro payoff for two-and-half-years of trouble. But that was nothing compared to Luis Barcena, the gentleman sacked for supposedly rigging Madrid’s General Assembly, bringing the club into disgrace and causing the resignation of the last president. Lucky Luis got a cool 550,000 euro for a tough two-and-a-half months on the job. In these times of economic uncertainty, it’s good to know at least one employer in Spain is looking after its staff. LLL Prediction - Home winVillarreal (5th) vs Sporting (14th)There may not be much entertainment to be had for the people of Villarreal watching their busy, bottling football team. But there is in following the latest wrong-doings from their local politicians. In what has been a depressing theme in Spain in recent months, the Valencia regional leader, Francisco Camps, has been implicated in a corruption scandal - one of many across the country. “Yesterday they came for a councillor, today they came for a mayor and tomorrow a regional president,” said a defiant Camps, piggybacking on a poem by Martin Niemoeller describing the Holocaust. Sometimes, you can’t make these things up. LLL Prediction - DrawSevilla (3rd) vs Atlético (6th)For the past few weeks, only one topic of conversation dominated the tabloids all over the world. How could such a fresh-faced youngster who barely looked old enough to ride a bike, never mind handle a bout of horizontal jogging, father a child?Well, Kun Agüero has managed it. Young Benjamin Agüero Maradona was born in the boring Madrid suburb of Boadilla on Thursday evening. And how the emotions must be running high in the handball, cheaty household.  A little like they have been in Andalusia in the world of Monchi, Sevilla’s sporting director.

On Wednesday, Monchi revealed that he has been blubbing more than a hormonal Big Brother contestant this season watching his team’s games. La Liga Loca feels his pain having been brought close to tears by most of Sevilla’s matches, too.“I’ve cried most from stress, this reflects our situation,” moped Monchi on his third-placed side. LLL Prediction - Home win SundayValladolid (10th) vs Málaga (7th)Sometimes, compliments are made which you sometimes feel are less than heartfelt. Like when Barack Obama informed Hilary Clinton that “she was nice enough.”

Or when La Liga Loca described Guti as being “industrious.”Two more congratulating cronies were in action this week, failing to convince all of their convictions. Well, at least one of them anyway. Málaga manager, Antonio Tapia, claimed that his Valladolid counterpart, José Luis Mendilibar was “one of the best managers in the world.” The blog must assume that it was said in a massively sarcastic manner as the response from the Pucela palace was less than fulsome, with Mendilibar returning the compliment by commenting that Tapia was “very competent and hardworking.”LLL Prediction - DrawRecreativo (16th) vs Almería (13th)Now, there’s a fair-to-middling chance that at least one of these struggling sides will end up stuck in La Segunda next season. And oh, what a wonderful time awaits for the lucky loser. There are now six clubs in administration in Spain’s second tier and most of them have enjoyed top flight times in recent seasons.

Real Sociedad, Las Palmas, Levante, Alaves and Celta Vigo are all in financial trouble and they have just been joined by Real Murcia who have been declared as a financial basket case with estimated debts of around 29.8 million euro. LLL Prediction - Home win Mallorca (18th) vs Racing (11th)Another club that has found its way onto the blog’s bankruptcy watch is Racing Santander.

Last week, Marca revealed that the side’s polymathic president, Franciso Pernía, made a trip down to the dressing room to talk to the players in regards to cash - or rather the lack of it - being paid to the squad. The paper wrote that some of Racing’s employees have yet to get their salaries for January - a group that includes some of the playing staff. And the side have yet to receive their bonuses for qualifying for this season’s UEFA Cup - a competition they have already been knocked out of. But all will be OK, say Marca in a fine example of Pravda-esque reporting, due to the footballers’ “absolute support and confidence in their president.”LLL Prediction - Away win Osasuna (17th) vs Numancia (19th)Osasuna and its manager, José Antonio Camacho, are the perfect fit. A club that fights, froths and feuds partnered with a coach that wears his heart on his sleeve and his sweat in his armpits. Having gone unbeaten in the last four matches and three games without conceding a goal, Osasuna’s future is looking as rosy as Camacho’s face - and it’s all down to the club’s loony but loveable fans, says the former Spain boss. “People don’t stop supporting me in the street and telling me we’re going to get out of trouble,” beamed Camacho. They should take another tremendously violent step in the right direction this weekend. LLL Prediction- Home win Getafe (12th) vs Athletic (9th) La Liga Loca’s unofficial league leaders return to the Coliseum having spent the week sorting out who is going to take their penalties.

Or rather miss them, considering a statistic published this week revealed that Getafe had messed up nine of the 22 awarded since their time in the top flight. The blog has calculated that had those strikes not been blasted into orbit, we may well have been looking at the three times winner of La Liga.

Oh yes. LLL Prediction - Home win Deportivo (8th) vs Valencia (4th) It seems that the goalkeeper described by Harry Redknapp as “that Spanish lad” has made quite a name for himself at Valencia.

The 37 year old César Sánchez has been called into action on more than one occasion since joining the Mestalla madhouse in January. Indeed, its quite likely that Valencia’s recent record would look even more rubbish than it currently does had it not been for Sánchez’s urgent interventions.And this is why the club is quite spooked over a knee injury that the keeper has picked up - an injury that was exacerbated during the club’s handy 1-1 away draw at Dynamo Kiev during the week. LLL Prediction - Away win

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