Tim Stannard suggests why derby defeat at Atletico might not be all bad for Carlo Ancelotti's Champions League winners...
La Liga watchers have been a little spoilt of late, with some top tasty football treats to dine on. This weekend it’s the Primera pasta with a bit of cheese thrown in to liven things up, as Real Madrid host Deportivo and Barcelona face Levante, two teams not particularly known for stout defences. This is why LLL is looking towards Mestalla for the most interesting result of the weekend, with Valencia up against a Getafe team who can be awkward when in the mood. Eibar against Elche on Monday might be worth a gander, just to see if the Basque outfit can pick up a win to keep the side well away from any kind of relegation battle.
Here are the posers to ponder over the next few days...
Will derby defeat be a boost for Real Madrid?
Enough was enough on Thursday for Marca after the Atlético loss and infamous Ronaldo 30th birthday reggaeton-fest. LLL is just imagining an entire evening of reggaeton. The mind boggles and then turns in on itself to stop the pain.
But anyway. Enough was enough on Thursday for Marca. Especially after a possible hint to the paper from Mordor that it might want to move on, with a bit of transfer speculation surrounding Porto’s Danilo, and who could be chopped for Saturday's visit of Deportivo.
The most likely victim is Iker Casillas, with Keylor Navas potentially getting just his third league start of the year. Gareth Bale might also face the block, especially as some sections of the Santiago Bernabéu are a little frosty towards the Welshman these days.
Marca also take a positive from the defeat last Saturday with an admirable bit of forward and backward thinking that the first defeat to Atlético Madrid in La Liga, in the middle of September, then led to a run of 22 straight wins. If that happens again, then Madrid would have won back the league title and have just the single match to play this season – the Champions League final.
Real Madrid vs Deportivo - Saturday 18.00 CET
Will a perky Piqué continue to lead Barça's revival?
Something that has really bugged LLL ever since it left the deserts of the Sahara and fell in love with a mirage of the 2003 Getafe team is that Real Madrid and Barcelona don’t appear to have huge crises at the same time. This year, the two have handed over the baton of wobbliness to each other with the kind precision that has been all too often lacking in British 100-metre relay teams of the past.
One person who is often at the focus of any Barça downfall is Gerard Piqué, a footballer who appears to be doing a little better of late, what with a new Shakira sprog and almost certainly fewer nights out. However, the Barça defender did admit that not everything was peachy between Leo Messi and Luis Enrique in the recent past. “They had some strong talks but it is over now,” said Piqué, adding that it was just a case of two stubborn personalities in the dressing room. Mmm. Sounds far too resolved and boring to the blog.
Barcelona vs Levante - Sunday 17.00 CET
Will Córdoba do a deal in Seville?
Oh dear. Life just got a little bit harder for Córdoba. As well as dealing with the real and present danger of relegation, having picked up just 18 points and being second from bottom thanks to three defeats on the trot, it appears that someone has been scuppering their attempts to train.
Initially, a messed-up practice pitch was thought to be the result of bad weather or a fungus. LLL knows all about those. But apparently the damaged grass was the result of a chemical attack on the club’s training pitch. “A travesty that has no solution,” lamented club president Carlos Gonzalez.
For the moment, the team is training in their stadium with no other facilities in the city available, and the possibility of trekking 130km to Seville every day still being mulled over by the club. Córdoba will head to the other end of Andalusia on Saturday anyway, to face a side trying to stay in the battle for third in a three-way fun fest with Valencia and Villarreal, but always seeming to flop when an extra push is required.
Sevilla vs Córdoba - Saturday 16.00 CET
Will Rayo homework pay off against Villarreal?
Now that’s proper team building. Rather than wait until the following morning to analyse a game in front of yawning footballers, Rayo boss Paco Jémez took his charges to a big-screen bar to catch Wednesday’s Copa del Rey clash between Barcelona and Villarreal. The aim was to have a closer look at Sunday’s opponents after their rubbish loss to Elche last week. The blog hopes that the footballers have a better recollection of the match than LLL does after watching games in bars.
Rayo Vallecano vs Villarreal - Sunday 19.00 CET