Why Barcelona and Real Madrid both face banana skins in disguise this weekend

The Big Two won't struggle as much as you might expect (if you actually did), as Tim Stannard looks ahead to the weekend in La Liga...

Take that parts of Europe that aren't Spain and stick it up yer jumper! Six teams into the quarter-finals of the Europa League and the Champions League – the same as England, France, Portugal and Ukraine combined. And even Italy, if you wanted to be mean but mathematically correct.

The five heroic battlers who have been travelling far and wide this week fighting for their country’s pride have returned to Spain – well, only one actually left the borders – for another ding dong round of La Liga.

Will Villarreal be banana skin or battle fodder for Barcelona?

What Villarreal are really good at doing is getting close to something good and then blowing it

Villarreal are going to be torn between two footballing powers in El Madrigal on Sunday for the visit of Barcelona. The feeling in Camp Positive is that the Yellow Submarine fall into the category of being able to 'give anyone a game on their day' – which should have its own cup, separate from the Europa League.

However, working against this power is 'bottling it when it really matters', something that has irked manager Marcelino throughout the year. Let’s not forget that Villarreal is a club that has won literally nothing in its history. Not even the annual La Liga egg and spoon race.

Villarreal

Villarreal celebrate their Europa League last 16 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday

What Villarreal are really good at doing is getting close to something good and then blowing it, which is a pattern preventing the club from closing down Real Madrid in third this season, and one that will see them go out in the semi-finals of the Europa League on penalties to Sparta Prague.

Basically, LLL is trying to say that although this looks like a possible end to Barcelona’s 38-match unbeaten run, it probably won’t be. And this is why LLL never made it in sales, aside from a good summer selling Early Starter breakfast extras at the Little Chef near Grantham.

Villarreal vs Barcelona: Sunday 16.00 CET

Will Sevilla end away day hoodoo in Santiago Bernabeu?

Sevilla have yet to win away from home in Europe or La Liga this season, and having played on Thursday in the Europa League are unlikely to end that run anytime soon

La Liga is set to be like a season of Doctor Who. For every Daleks-invade-the-world, special-effects-budget-busting blow-out, there will be six ‘trapped-in-a-space-station-run-around-the corridors’ episodes.

With Real Madrid lodged in third and not too much interest in whether Zizou’s side make second, everything will be stuck onto the Champions League from now until whenever that train runs out of track. Aside from the Clasico in a fortnight’s time, which is always fun.

Ronaldo

Ronaldo is looking to get back on the scoresheet after firing blanks at Las Palmas

On Sunday, Madrid are confronting a match that looks dangerous on paper, rather like the Barcelona clash in El Madrigal, but isn’t in reality.

Sevilla have yet to win away from home in Europe or La Liga this season, and having played on Thursday in the Europa League, are unlikely to end that run anytime soon – especially as Cristiano Ronaldo is due a ‘he loves me’ moment in front of goal, after vanishing against Las Palmas.

Real Madrid vs Sevilla: Sunday 20.30 CET

Can Betis secure Primera position against merry Malaga?

One of Van der Vaart's ex-lady friends, Sabia Boulahrouz, told Dutch press that “it was great that he went to Seville, but he ended up at the lesser club.”

LLL has discovered that it helps to look at the Spanish league table from time to time. That’s how the blog found out that Deportivo weren’t doing as well as it thought a few weeks back. The latest adventure in the realm of research is to note that Betis are in the reverse situation and doing better. The Seville side are in 11th, on 34 points under the stewardship of Juan Merino.

A player who has contributed absolutely nothing to the Betis cause but is probably earning more than everyone else in the side put together is Rafael van der Vaart, a midfielder with just seven league appearances all season.

A footballer seen by fans as too much of a lazy bones to care about Betis will see his stock in the city falling even lower after the comments from one of his ex-lady friends, Sabia Boulahrouz, who told the Dutch press that “it was great that he went to Seville, but he ended up at the lesser club”. Ouch.

Van der Vaart

Van der Vaart isn't a popular figure among Betis fans

Betis are hosting a Malaga side that also flirted playfully with a relegation fight but stabilised under Javi Gracia, to sit in a handy eighth spot. The Spanish coach has now been rewarded for his work at a club that gave up on the days of the big splashy signings some time ago, with a deal that sees Gracia staying with the team until at least 2019.

Betis vs Málaga - Saturday 22.05 CET

Are Getafe about to be replaced by New Getafe?

Forget the Santiago Bernabeu or El Madrigal this weekend. The real fireworks are going to fly on Friday in Getafe’s Coliseum – the centre of the universe for 90 minutes. And half-time. And a bit of injury-time probably.

The clash against Eibar is looking like a make-or-break one for Getafe: the Madrid club are currently squished in the relegation zone after eight defeats from the past nine.

Getafe

Getafe were drubbed 6-0 by Barcelona last weekend

However, the odds are easing into Getafe’s favour, with Eibar having pretty much given up the ghost in the second half of the season despite needing a good four points to avoid a relegation repeat (before they were reprieved thanks to Elche's financial irregularities). The Basque club have picked up just four points from the last 27 available.

However, LLL is prepared for the worst and a farewell to Getafe. But there are reasons to cheer for those who like suburban capital city clubs with few supporters. Leganés, a matter of miles from Getafe, are currently at the top of the second division and in prime position to move on up. And potentially change their name. To the New Getafe.

Getafe vs Eibar: Friday 20.30 CET

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