The 2000mph Weekend Predictions - Round 30

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Barcelona (1st) vs Recreativo (18th)

As well as wrestling with his own demons and the odd UEFA official, prickly Pep Guardiola now has to take on the familiar task of dampening down the fierce flames of expectation in the local Catalan press.

Sport and Mundo Deportivo already have Barça in the semi-finals - and so does Jurgen Klinsmann, something the German coach may regret very soon - but the talk from the on-message Barcelona massive is that the tie is far from over.

Xavi is still suffering from nasty nightmares over his Copa del Rey catastrophe against Getafe when a 5-2 lead was reversed by a 4-0 loss in the Coliseum.

Thierry Henry, meanwhile, delved into the history books for a reminder of how good times could go very bad. “Don’t you remember what happened to Milan against Deportivo?” tutted the French striker. “After Milan won 4-1 at home, everyone said it was over then Depor won 4-0 and could have scored six or seven.”

Meanwhile the existential question over whether Barcelona were brilliant or Bayern were completely bobbins on Wednesday night has been answered by the King of Catalunya himself.

“The first half against Bayern was the best in Barcelona’s history,” crowed Joan Laporta.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Villarreal (4th) vs Málaga (7th)

After a series of fairly lacklustre showings from Málaga, a former player who is all too familiar with the concept of poor performances, Fernando Sanz, had a bit of a dummy-spit at his squad this week after the 0-1 defeat to Real Madrid.

The Málaga president complained to the press that “some of the players were thinking more about their own personal performances” during the game against his former club.

Those same footballers have been given another chance this weekend to show if they are the real deal in the European football chase or happy to ease themselves into the comfy chair of midtableland.

LLL Prediction - Home win


Real Madrid (2nd) vs Valladolid (9th)

The cold, non-corporial hand of He Who Cannot Be Named continues to squish and squash the last, tiny speck of editorial independence left in the offices of Marca.

Those with even the shortest of memories will recall that the paper was recently trumpeting Arjen Robben as being the bestest, biggest player in the world. Ever. Better than Leo Messi even.

But in Friday’s edition, the bug-eating, Dark Master-serving bosses have been forced to bend to Florentino Pérez’ will once again by preparing the way for Robben’s departure over the summer, to release funds for the permanent purchase of Julien Faubert.

“Robben will not remain at Madrid,” predicts the paper’s headline. “If he leaves it will be the fault of his fragile muscles,” notes the edition’s editorial which has U-turned and branded the Dutch winger an overpriced waste of space.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Mallorca (15th) vs Almería (11th)

La Liga Loca was going to write a gag-filled epic on another hilarious week in the Almería camp, but it has just noticed that it has stopped raining in Madrid. And is a bank holiday.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Osasuna (14th) vs Athletic (12th)

As has been mentioned a few times in recent ramblings, Osasuna fans loath pretty much everyone - Real Madrid... Barcelona... Sevilla. But the side that really scratches their goats is fellow Basque operatives, Athletic Bilbao.

On Sunday, phasers in El Sadar (La Liga Loca is reverting to the stadium’s old name from now on) will be set to vaporise with the visit of a team just two points above them.

“They’re always pretty bad to us, we’re used to it,” shrugged Athletic striker Fernando Llorente, discussing the rancourous reception he and his team-mates are set to receive.

But they have a plan to overcome what will be boisterous opponents on Sunday. “We’re going to play at 2,000 miles-an-hour and see what happens,” revealed the returning Javi Martínez on Athletic’s cunning plan.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Numancia (19th) vs Espanyol (20th)

Everything to play for... er... six-pointer... a lot at stake... er...

LLL Prediction - Draw

Racing (10th) vs Betis (16th)

This week saw the splendid era of Paco Chaparro come to an oh-so predictable inevitable ending with a good old-fashioned sacking. The Andalusian Yoda packed his bags and left the Manuel de Lopera stadium without a word, leaving all the big-talking boasts to his successor, José Maria Nogúes.

The former youth team coach’s first task is to deal with the aerial threat of Racing’s Nikola Zigic, even though it seems to have escaped most people’s attention that the Serbian striker is as handy at heading as the subject of 80s Cher weep-vehicle ‘Mask’.

“I have central defenders that are tall enough to eat Zigic with chips,” boasted the cannibalistic Betico chief.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Sporting (13th) vs Valencia (5th)

Not content with the Pérez for President campaign, Marca have also spent the week picking fights with Valencia bigwig Vicente Soriano.

Incidentally, for those who feel they are missing out on any AS action, that particular rag has passed a merry week making up stories about Kaka going to Madrid.

Wednesday’s Marca revealed that Soriano had offered the two Davids, Silva and Villa, to Real Madrid for a bargain 60 million euro over a lunch between himself and Vicente Boluda.

“Completely false and without truth,” spluttered the Mestalla man in response before the paper’s editorial firmly implied that Soriano was a fib-telling eejit who should be spending his time fixing the financial mess at the club rather than suggesting that the paper was full of horse manure.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Sevilla (3rd) vs Getafe (17th)

Understandably for someone who once claimed to be the second most important person in Seville after the Pope, José Maria del Nido is a busy beaver over the Easter period, and this sometimes makes him get a little overexcited.

“The team is on an unstoppable run! It’s magnificent!” squealed the Sevilla president on a rash of results that sees his side with six wins from the last seven.

It is likely that Del Nido’s joy will continue unabated for another week to come, considering they are facing the visit of Getafe on Sunday, a team “that had more fear of relegation last year,” according to captain David Belenguer.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Deportivo (8th) vs Atlético Madrid (6th)

Having barmily blamed the fans for last Sunday’s home defeat against Osasuna, rojiblanco club president Enrique Cerezo was forced to backtrack a tad and concede that boos from the stands may have born a little less relation to the team’s abject performance that he originally claimed.

Instead, Cerezo asked that the supporters refrain from jeering and whistling until the end of each match.

In the same interview in AS, Cerezo also referred to the away encounter at Deportivo as a game with a fair amount at stake. “We have to be in the Champions League by legal or illegal means,” announced the Atleti bigwig.

Considering he has already had a paddling from the Old Bill over his purchase of the club, avoiding prison due to a statue of limitations, La Liga Loca suspects Cerezo is comfortable with both approaches.

LLL Prediction - Home win

The good news is that you can catch Tim Stannard in action on RMTV's La Liga preview show 'The Match'. The bad news is that he is on for an hour. First broadcast 19.10 UK time on Skydigital channel 446 and repeated over the weekend.

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