The Blizzard-Running Weekend Predictions - Round 17

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Valladolid (13th) vs Atlético Madrid (11th)

Normal service has resumed at Atleti after Saturday’s win over Sevilla.

With club president Enrique Cerezo declaring that lifting the Copa del Rey in May was the only way of saving the Calderón club’s season, it was only natural that his side would blow their first-leg last-16 tie in fine style, being pummelled by second division Recreativo, a team that hadn't won in six.

But it was the manner of Atleti’s 3-0 walloping that was most majestic.

Tomas Ujfalusi’s sending off, the awful defending and the silly penalty all led to a wonderfully entertaining evening for the neutral.

“It was one of the most incredible images of impotency that I can remember,” wrote a stunned Iñako Díaz-Guerra in AS.

“And I’m like the replicant in Blade Runner who’s seen some astonishing things with this team.”

Rojiblanco manager Quique Sánchez-Flores was equally as mortified, promising after the game to “look for the kind of footballer who won’t let me down.”

The next day, Quique’s mood was just as sour so he decided to send the squad on a run through the woods in the middle of a blizzard.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Sevilla (5th) vs Racing Santander (14th)

If Sevilla president José María del Nido was feeling a little down in the dumps last Tuesday, he certainly did his best to hide it by sporting a natty gangster-style fedora whilst watching his team beat Barcelona in the Camp Nou.

The previous day, Del Nido had learned that the Spanish equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service were looking to send the Andalusian loudmouth to prison for 14 years after hitting him with corruption charges.

The Sevilla bigwig is accused of having falsely invoiced the good people of Marbella over €3 million for his fine legal services, with the official report accusing del Nido of forming “a criminal organisation to empty the local council’s coffers.”

His alleged partner-in-crime at the time, former mayor Julian Muñoz, has also been accused of financial naughtiness along with Del Nido, and may be sent straight back to jail despite having only just come out of it after a previous conviction on a similar charge.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Villarreal (9th) vs Almería (15th)

Almería left-back Guilherme is a defender who is in possession of a big pair of disco trousers and loves putting them on whenever he can.

The Brazilian has done nothing to banish the stereotype of his countrymen by partying like it’s 1999 to the detriment of his performances for the team and was kicked out of a training session shortly before Christmas after a showbiz strop.

Former boss Hugo Sánchez opted to punish his charge in an unusual manner by giving him an extra week’s holiday in Brazil over the festive period to sit and think about his behaviour.

And that goes a long way to explaining why the Mexican was given the boot soon after.

But Guilherme is back in town and determined to clean up his act, declaring that he the wants to “take advantage of the chance that they’ve given me.”

LLL Prediction - Home win


Sporting (10th) vs Getafe (7th)

Getafe are the big Blue Meanies of the week with their decision to stop midfielder Derek Boateng from going to the Africa Cup of Nations.

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The Ghanian had been called up by his country rather late in the day due to the injury suffered by Fulham’s John Pantsil, but Getafe have rejected the request claiming that FIFA’s own ruling says that 14 days notice must be given before any tournament begins.

But La Liga Loca also feels that the Coliseum club is perhaps quite right in its stern stance.

The club is following the letter of the law and in the blog’s humble opinion, Boateng’s tough tackling stylings in central midfield have been key to Getafe’s recent fine form.

LLL Prediction - Draw

Xerez (20th) vs Valencia (3rd)

Like a naughty child asking for pocket money from a parent, Xerez have been given permission by a judge to spend a whopping €975,000 in the winter transfer market.

La Primera’s bottom-feeders are currently going through an administration process, as well as an elongated buy-out wrangle that has hit a bumpy spot due to the fact that the club’s accounts over recent years probably consist of IOUs scrawled on the back of matchboxes from naked lady-bars.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Espanyol (16th) vs Zaragoza (19th)

When La Liga Loca spoke to Jermaine Pennant after the pre-Christmas thrashing by Real Madrid, the Zaragoza man was suitably despondent - and not just because he had to waste several minutes of his life talking to a blog that was pointing and haha-ing like The Simpsons' Nelson Muntz.

However, the winger said he would be back after the holidays and he was true to his word and put in a fine display in the goalless draw against Deportivo last weekend.

Talking to Marca this week, Pennant has again committed himself to the club, claiming that he has no plans to jump ship.

Meanwhile, the club has been beavering away in the transfer market and has snaffled former Málaga winger Eliseu in what the blog feels might be a shrewd bit of business.

LLL Prediction - Away win

Deportivo (6th) vs Osasuna (12th)

Friday’s AS claims, not unreasonably, that the Copa del Rey is dying on its ar*e, citing disappointing attendance figures of 101,247 for this week’s eight fixtures – some 90,000 less than would be expected for the corresponding games in La Liga.

Around 2,000 turned up to see Recre thrash Atlético. Only 4,500 Hercules supporters made it to see their victory over Osasuna on Thursday night, while 6,000 hardy souls in Málaga dragged themselves out at 10pm to catch the 2-1 victory over Getafe.

Cold weather and insane kick-off times must be important factors in explaining such poor crowds, as well as the two-legged format – the only one of its kind in the big leagues of Europe, note AS.

However, the response to the paper’s criticism from the Spanish FA suggests that the tournament will be a tinkering-free zone.

“We think it’s a good format and we’re not going to change it,” said a spokesman.

Well, La Liga Loca thinks they should...

LLL Prediction - Home win

Málaga (18th) vs Athletic (8th)

...simply copy the model of the FA Cup, a tournament which has also been suspected of impending death.

There should be no more protecting the big teams from the opening rounds and giving them easy ties when they join in the last 32 (not that this helps Real Madrid much).

La Copa must be an open draw with the top two divisions participating from the last 64 stage.

Matches should be played on a Saturday or Sunday, under-12s allowed in for free and knockout ties until the semi-finals.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Madrid (2nd) vs Mallorca (4th)

Well, it’s big diddums and tummy-rubbing at Castle Greyskull with complaints in Madrid fanzine Marca that the nasty, nasty people in the crowd at Osasuna were mean to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Apparently, the shiny midfielder received abuse and death threats, something that the notoriously tempestuous locals proffer even to their own players.

But despite Ronaldo saying that it “went in one ear and out the other” and professing over the summer that he “likes to see the hate in [rival supporters'] eyes," Marca are not happy at all that kiwi fruit and virgins were not offered to the footballer it regards as the best in the world.

Still, it's set to be worse on Sunday with Ronaldo playing in front of even harsher critics – the Bernabeu support, a throng who don't exactly show the love to him and his team-mates either – according to Ronaldo:

“The fans are not bad, but a lot depends on how we are playing.”

LLL Prediction - Home win

Tenerife (17th) vs Barcelona (1st)

Oh dear. La Liga Loca is in a bit of tizz and doesn’t know what to think, where to go or what to do.

And no, it hasn’t gone to Argos again.

For a wee while, the blog was happy to accept in good faith the word of Marca that Barcelona had won their six trophies thanks to the powers-that-be both in the Spanish FA and UEFA waving them through.

But now, Sport are claiming that the Spanish FA - in conjunction with Real Madrid - are doing everything in their power to stop Barça from repeating their 2009 feats.

“The success of the Madridista campaign depends on whether referees are right or not,” spooked the paper.

Thursday’s edition also complains that there is a “black hand” doing its best to shaft the Camp Nou club and frets over “unfair penalties and marginal goals being ruled out” from the club’s previous encounters against Villarreal in the league and Sevilla in the cup.

It also suggests that the Andalusian side was deliberately picked to play Barça in the knockout competition to make life difficult for the holders.

The simple-minded La Liga Loca knows that one of the two papers must be wrong. It just can’t decide which it is.

And surely it can't be both.

LLL Prediction - Away win

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