Tim Stannard comin' atcha in technicolour with the latest lookahead to Spain's top-flight action...
To kick things off this weekend, La Liga Loca has gone all audiovisual with a two-minute moving pictures summary of the weekend to come with predictions. If people aren't too mean on t’internet then there may be more, but with better lighting and a much-needed haircut. The blog has been busy, OK?
But onto football. The Champions League draw has just taken place in LLL-land... and…oh, cat’s handbags, the blog is spared two Clásicos. The Netflix binge-watching plan for the next few weeks is back on. As for analysis: Barca will be gutted; Real Madrid delighted.
Will Barcelona breath big sigh of relief in Cornella?
Quite possibly, yes. Barca may well be able to puff on a cigar or two in the lounge of relaxation if the team pulls off a win against Espanyol, having ended a run of tough old games. The odds suggest they will, with the game being fairly one-sided of late in the Perico roost – Espanyol haven't picked up a win in nine. But that doesn’t mean a draw isn't on the cards, which would mess up Barca’s plans enormously.
However, should both Real Madrid and Barcelona win all their respective games and end up within one point of one another, then a fairly intriguing final day could occur. Espanyol would host a Madrid side knowing their dreaded city rival could still lose the title, while Barca will turn up at the Vicente Calderón to face Atletico Madrid. It might be worth cheering the Clásico pair along for the rest of the season just to see what would happen.
Espanyol vs Barcelona: Saturday 16.00 CET
Will Chicharito become best buds with Ron?
The pair confused a Madrid television director on Wednesday night by simultaneously celebrating the winning goal against Atlético, the first victory for Real against the Rojiblancos in eight attempts. The TV wizard was perhaps having a brain-melt at the idea of the Mexican scoring a goal.
When compared with a reverse situation last Saturday – a Chicharito assist for a Ronaldo goal – dual celebrations took place too. To be fair, Ronaldo’s are solo efforts in general, with no one wanting to get too close to that giant stride/roar thing he does. Which does not get irritating at all. Oh no.
Carlo Ancelotti will not give two hoots how many goals are celebrated on Sunday, whether synchronised or not, so long as they are scored in the first place. This is the first of the same tricky run of matches that Barcelona are now completing. And it would not be good at all for Madrid to run straight into the first hurdle.
Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid: Sunday 21.00 CET
Will players start uprising against Simeone?
Highly unlikely, but there must be some disquiet in the camp from the Rojiblancos that a huge opportunity in the Champions League has slipped from their fingers. The Real Madrid clash was both dreadful and intriguing at the same time, but it felt as if the tactical pendulum swung too much in the destructive, rather than creative aspect of Atleti’s game. And yes, the other side does exist if Antoine Griezmann is let off the leash and plays the whole 90 minutes. A morale-boosting “I have a team of men” from Simeone after the match may not cut the custard this time around.
As for the weekend’s affair against Elche, the blog would slap itself repeatedly on the forehead in amazement if the game does not end in a 2-0 win for Atlético, with goals wrapped up by 26 minutes.
Atlético Madrid vs Elche: Saturday 18.00 CET
Can Córdoba carry on fight against Athletic?
The bottom-dwellers are stuck in an awkward friendship zone of still being a few games away from mathematical relegation, but not bad enough to be considered interesting enough to watch, akin to motorists slowing down to peer gormlessly at a road accident.
Instead the Friday night game gives LLL another chance to continue its obsession over which of Athletic’s strikers are going to live up to their job titles and help creaky old Aritz Aduriz out with some goals. So far the other seven have piped up with just three in La Liga, although poor Iker Muniain is not going to get the chance to redeem himself now that he's sidelined for six months with a knee ligament injury.
Not a classic clash but still enough there to keep an eye on the game should it be playing in a corner bar TV.
Córdoba vs Athletic Bilbao: Friday 20.45 CET
Do Rayo players dare lose to Sevilla?
The Rayo of Paco Jémez have yet to beat Sevilla. Indeed, the best that various incarnations of the team has managed is a goalless draw in the 2012/13 season. The rest of the record shows four draws in four matches. LLL imagines that now would be a truly excellent time for the players, as Jémez seems to be in such a foul mood of late, sensing too much relaxation in his players that anything less than three points in the Sánchez Pizjuán could result in a giant Hulk! Smash! moment from the manager.
The weekend might be a good time to manage a sneaky victory, as the blog can only imagine that Sevilla are rather drained after an epic clash in Russia against Zenit that put them into the Europa League semi-finals after a dramatic, ding-dong 2-2 draw.
Sevilla vs Rayo Vallecano: Sunday 19.00 CET
Eibar could be in same mess as Almería
It’s entirely possible that after this weekend, Eibar will have as many points as Almería. And that can’t be a good thing, as the general assumption is that the southern side are a good bet to go down. However, that depends on how many points Almería have. According to the Spanish league, it’s 28 – but a three-point punishment handed down by FIFA for an unpaid player debt would plonk Almería on 25.
Everything hinges on an appeal currently lodged with TAS, though that particular hearing doesn't have a date yet and the end of the season is upon us. What could possibly go wrong?
Almería vs Eibar: Sunday 19.00 CET