And so it doth end as La Primera doth began – in a wail of name-calling, conspiracy and controversy. La Liga Loca wouldn’t have it any other way.
On a backdrop of money talk, suitcases and skulduggery, there are two main prizes left in the final weekend of La Primera. The first is the title, where a win for Barcelona would mean the Catalan club retain their league trophy.
Anything else for Barça and a victory for Real Madrid would let the forces of Mordor have their way with the trophy, to top a fine week for Rafa Benitez.
Down below, Levante are already jettisoned, leaving two spots open for a passage to La Segunda between Rayo, Getafe and Sporting. All three will be much missed in very different ways. It may be tissue time in the LLL household.
Granada damned if they do and don’t in Saturday showdown
Despite the opportunity to trumpet the thrills and spills of a final-round battle that could see either Barcelona or Real Madrid wandering off with the La Liga trophy, the collective forces of Spain’s game have instead come together to talk about the possibility of bribery tainting Saturday’s Primera process. It was a good effort all round, and a rare sign of cooperation and organisation.
In Granada’s case, goalkeeper Ivan Kelava caused quite the kerfuffle by apparently jokingly admitting in an interview that the team had been on the lash for a few days and would readily accept a very illegal incentive payment from Real Madrid to beat Barcelona. The claim was later withdrawn and blamed on the staples of bad translation/miscommunication/made-up stuff/he got caught out.
Since that point it has been spin city in Granada, with the mantra being transmitted from manager José González that “beating the best team in the world is incentive enough”. Over in Barcelona, a probably-bemused Luis Suárez also weighed in on the subject, suggesting that pride will be enough to drive Granada.
Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart decided to join in by stating that Real Madrid were harming football for apparently insinuating through back channels that Barcelona were paying off Deportivo in the other title-winning clash.
What’s actually going to happen now is Granada getting caught very much in no-man’s land in Los Cármenes on Saturday. Play out of their skins and the suggestion will be that Madrid had a hand in the performance. Roll over, and Barcelona will be looked at by the legions of conspiracy theorists. La Liga is going out in style.
Granada vs Barcelona: Saturday 5PM CEST
Down-and-out Depor see out sorry season against Madrid
Judging by a very dodgy vibe at Deportivo, Real Madrid should find the process of laying down a marker in La Coruña with a fairly easy win. Apparently it’s no great surprise that Depor only ended up winning two of their past 22 La Liga games, which put the Galicians in relegation trouble after they’d eked towards the European places in the first part of the season.
Midfielder Pedro Mosquera went a little whistle-blower during the week, suggesting that some at the club hadn’t been pulling their weight over the past few months in La Liga. “We are 20-odd in the dressing room who are professional. Perhaps some have not followed my way of seeing things,” he groaned.
It seems that there might be some kind of Santa-style reckoning at the end of the season. “Each person knows what they have done badly and done well during the season,” said Mosquera.
Deportivo vs Real Madrid: Saturday 5PM CEST
Passport Paco denies leaving Rayo’s sinking ship
Rayo Vallecano boss Paco Jémez has probably had better weeks. The hipster’s hipster manager was already staring relegation in the face, with the Madrid club needing dropped points from both Getafe and Sporting and a win for Rayo against Levante to stay up. The chances are rather slim.
What’s more, last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Real Sociedad is being investigated by La Liga after some “abnormal” betting behaviour. Gulp.
Poor Paco also had to do battle with the media, who sent 12 cameras to the club’s tiny press room to ask what the manager was going to do next season. The answer was that he would sit down with his boss once Sunday was over.
The other poser was whether Jémez had been talking to Valencia, and even travelled to Singapore to meet the club’s owner Peter Lim. “I’ve not met anyone; I don’t have a verbal agreement or deal with anyone.”
The Rayo boss even resorted to offering up his passport to the attending journalists to examine. “I am tired of the lies. I didn’t go to Singapore! Check it!”
Rayo Vallecano vs Levante: Sunday 7.30PM CEST
Gus Poyet in ‘non-British’ revelation shock
Two news items fall into the ‘whopping’ category ahead of the Betis vs Getafe clash. The former is that 2,000 tickets have been sold to travelling fans of the Coliseum club. LLL had no idea there were that many. It’s like finding 500 dodos happily huddled on Brighton beach one morning.
The other is that Betis unveiled next season’s manager even before this season had been completed, with Gus Poyet smiling for the cameras on Wednesday and having to educate the press on why he is not Gary Neville or David Moyes.
“I'm not British,” announced the former Brighton and Sunderland boss. “Secondly, I played in Spain for seven years – they didn't. I speak Spanish – before they came here, they didn’t.” LLL suggests that this is just mere nit-picking from Gus.
The appointment may end up going slightly away from Getafe’s favour, what with the Betis players having an extra spring in their step while the new manager watches on. So a calamity for the plucky Coliseum club may be on the cards after all, despite the newly unearthed supporters.
Betis vs Getafe: Sunday 7.30PM CEST
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