Big Weekend Preview: Big Three seek double figures as Mestalla returns to normal

It could be goals aplenty for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid this weekend, says Tim Stannard...

Midweek in La Liga is the new weekend. Well, it is for the next fortnight or so as the Big Three plod their way through La Primera’s cannon fodder, with the tasty action taking place on school nights in the Copa del Rey. Still, one way to have fun over the next fortnight is guess how many goals Madrid, Atlético and Barcelona will score in their respective matches against Getafe, Granada and Deportivo; LLL is going for 14.

Can Barcelona have a drama-free weekend?

Beating Deportivo in Riazor – no guarantee with Barça’s patchy away form – is the least challenging of Barcelona’s objectives this weekend. Instead, the Camp Nou club should be focusing on having a weekend with no Real Housewives drama, devoid of Messi moans and Luis Enriqué star-busting antics. The blog gives it a 30% chance of success.
Deportivo vs Barcelona – Sunday 19.00 CET 

Is La Liga Loca on the right side of history with Torres?

Fifteen or more. That’s how many goals LLL predicted Fernando Torres would score across all competitions this season. Partly due to the fact that the hometown and Simeone factors would give Nando a boost, and also the moon-gravity effect of La Liga – in the same way you can bounce 10 feet off the lunar surface, scoring goals is considerably easier.

Thanks to Pepe and Sergio Ramos, the Atlético man has just 13 more to get to leave the blog feeling incredibly smug. Should Torres get some minutes this weekend, then a home clash against Granada is a tremendous way to rack up some strikes before the first of a dilapidating double header against Barcelona gets underway.
Atlético Madrid vs Granada – Sunday 17.00 CET

Are the good old days returning to Mestalla after cup calamity?

Could it be that the white handkerchieves of the Mestalla faithful will be receiving a dusting off, or de-snotting perhaps, to wave at the players during the Almería clash if some goals do not appear sharpish on Sunday?

The mood in the Valencia camp started rather brightly after coach Nuno was handed a deal until 2018. That vague, unerring sense of optimism and stability that Valencia fans felt quickly changed into a more familiar feeling of angst, after being dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Espanyol.

The loss left Valencia without a realistic chance of silverware this year, something that Peter Lim, after his hefty spend on the club, might have enjoyed, something that irked fans enormously.

The owner's daughter Kim Lim published a letter to supporters saying that “the team needs more support instead of critics” – talk about not knowing your audience – while club president Amadeo Salvo had a gathering with fan clubs to try and cut off any dissent at the canyon. Happy days are here again for La Liga Loca.
Valencia vs Almería – Saturday 18.00 CET

"Er, eh?"

Could the Getafe gaffer get the scalp of Ancelotti?

Real Madrid likes to think of itself as a bit of an über-glamorous club. However, the fella on the bench has never really fit that theme. Carlo Ancelotti – funny eyebrows, José Mourinho – gobby, Manuel Pellegrini – dull, Bernd Schuster – well, Bernd Schuster.

However, the manager on the Getafe bench oozes glamour and coolness from his pores. That man is Quique Sánchez Flores, now two weeks into his return to Getafe, replete with a cool, slightly grey beard that gives him the air of Omar Sharif in his pomp. His high hopes begin with inflicting another local bop onto Real Madrid’s nose this weekend in the Coliseum, and could go all the way to the Bernabeu. “I don’t see [managing Real Madrid] as something that’s very far away. I am ready to coach at the highest level possible.”

When Florentino, who has an eye for the chic, takes a gander at Quique on Sunday... anything is possible in the land of Mordor.
Getafe vs Real Madrid – Sunday 12.00 CET

Will we finally get some Friday fun?

For once, a Friday night match worth watching: a clash involving neither Levante nor Deportivo, who served up a predictably awful goalless draw last week.

This week’s selection sees two promoted teams enjoying rather differing fortunes. Improving Córdoba host the season's miracle side, Eibar, now in eighth after successive victories, and needing five more wins to stay up. They may well get the first in Andalusia.
Córdoba vs Eibar – Friday 20.45 CET

Could Joaquín Caparrós be facing his last days in Granada?

Frankly, yes: bottom of the table, winless in 14 league games and "fresh" from a 4-0 cup defeat to Sevilla, on Sunday the club face the champions. The realpolitik is that replacing ‘Jokin’ with ex-Atlético manager Abel Resino, as one local paper suggests, could be a bit beyond Granada’s means. Either way, the move probably won’t stop this plucky club going down to La Segunda.
Atlético Madrid vs Granada – Sunday 17.00 CET


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Will Athletic’s 2014 get even worse in El Madrigal?

The omens don’t look especially good at the moment with manager Ernesto Valverde admitting that: “I don’t know if we have hit rock bottom, but we're getting there.” The Basque side lost 2-0 at home in the Copa to Celta to top off three successive league defeats.
Villarreal vs Athletic Bilbao – Saturday 20.00 CET