The Depor-Pitying Weekend Predictions

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Valencia (4th) v Zaragoza (20th)

Zaragoza got the teeniest of boosts during the week with a midweek win at Betis in the Copa del Rey.

But it looks set to be the Seville side that will eventually replace the Aragonese outfit when they are surely relegated at the end of the season. And that can only be a good thing, as Betis are currently going through one of their most manic of moments. And that‚s saying something with this particularly colourful club.

The southern side sit atop la Segunda with a two-point lead over Celta and Rayo - a remarkable feat considering the club is in legal limbo over its ownership, with a judge blocking Darth Manuel Ruiz de Lopera‚s sale to businessman Luis Oliver on the grounds that there is some confusion over whether Darth even owned the club in the first place.

This week, another step in the wacky world of Betis took place when builders came in to remove the words 'Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera' from the Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera after a recent members‚ vote decided to rename the Betis home the Benito Villamarín, the name of the former stadium that the current one is built on.

The administrators who currently run the club claimed that the poll was "a farce", whilst Luis Oliver, who is still trying to get possession of Betis, has to constantly deny the theory that he is actually the stooge of De Lopera who is potentially selling to himself shares that he never owned in the first place. Possibly.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Hércules (13th) v Real Madrid (1st)

Real Madrid really are a Primera packet of jammy dodgers going into this match. Hércules have beaten both Barcelona and Sevilla and given Villarreal a thorough going over during a 2-2 draw, so LLL would have expected quite a contest for Madrid on Saturday night.

The problem is that the Alicante outfit are facing Mourinho's men without the footballing genius of Castle Greyskull loanee Royston Drenthe, who has to sit out the game unless the home side cough up the clause of - (Dr Evil pose) - two million Euros!

"Maybe I could pay it?", pondered the winger this week to the press.

LLL Prediction - Draw

Barcelona (3rd) v Sevilla (6th)

The general bargaining approach from both Real Madrid and Barcelona over the share-out of a new TV deal with the rest of la Liga is "Here! Have some crumbs! Crumbs good!"

The current offer - which some sides have already gratefully grasped - sees the big two swiping 34% of the honey pot, Atlético and Valencia getting 11%, 46% going to the rest of the sides in la Primera and a whopping 9% to be shared out amongst the 22 sides in la Segunda.

This week, Sevilla president José María del Nido very publicly told both Barça and Madrid to shove their offer where the sun rarely shines, suggesting that they could "go play in the Portuguese or French league and we'll play a Liga of 18."

"It's crazy to think that in the Champions League, Barcelona and Copenhagen are paid the same and here Real Madrid and Racing have such different incomes," continued the Andalusian overlord, in a stance that has also been adopted by Villarreal, Espanyol and Athletic

"I'm disappointed that some club leaders aren't able to see the wood from the trees due to liquidity problems," sniffed del Nido on those sides who have kneeled before the Zod-like figures of Barça and Real Madrid.

LLL Prediction - Home win


Sporting (15th) v Villarreal (2nd)

Although Villarreal have bottled going to the top of La Primera on seven occasions now, LLL has a tingly feeling that it could be eighth time lucky this weekend, what with Madrid set to drop points at Hércules having gone goalless at Mallorca, Levante and Murcia.

Trying to drag Villarreal into top spot is the tough, no nonsense, New York vice cop-esque Juan Carlos Garrido, who has been a Primera coach for just nine months now having managed Villarreal's cantera sides at pretty much every level of the game in Spain.

Speaking to El País this week, gaffer Garrido says that when he took over from the fired Ernesto Valverde last year he found "a team that had lost its sense of identity. Getting back this sense, these values, was hard work."

Villarreal are trying to go paunch to Primera paunch with Barcelona and Real Madrid, with a budget seven times smaller. What's more Villarreal, barely get a mention in the day-to-day dispatches of Spain's duopoly-dominated sporting press. "We don't have the media power of these great clubs," admits Garrido, "but we have the ability to play great football."

LLL Prediction - Away win

Racing (18th) v Osasuna (12th)

Racing Santander's 2-0 defeat at the hands of second division Córdoba completed a splendid week in the life of the Cantabrian club after last Saturday's 6-1 thrashing by Real Madrid.

However, Racing still have a chance to save their sorry skins in the second leg in a fortnight‚s time. Whether manager Miguel Angel Portugal will be there to see it is a different matter, as he could be toast if his team fails to beat Osasuna on Sunday afternoon.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Málaga (17th) v Real Sociedad (11th)

Considering that Málaga are loitering near the relegation zone with just two wins from eight and 19 goals conceded, LLL's contention that the side is actually one of the better ones in la Primera is getting harder to support that Maniche's mattress.

But the blog is going to be proved right on Sunday with Málaga set to chalk up four goals or more against Real Sociedad. Oh yes.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Deportivo (19th) v Espanyol (5th)

Oh dear. LLL has suddenly started feeling quite sorry for Deportivo. And quite repentant about all the childish jokes about their games featuring less rampant scoring action than Casa Rooney.

After all, one goal from open play for in a stretch going back nine league games simply isn't funny. Sensitive-souled Depor coach Miguel Angel Lotina certainly doesn't think so. "I've spent two nights without sleeping for a second and yesterday I had to ask the club doctors for help," admitted Lotina after Monday's 3-0 defeat to Real Sociedad.

Although LLL would suggest Lotina tries counting not sheep but Riki's shots over the bar in his head, the blog would hope that Depor's 1-1 cup draw at Osasuna may help the red-eyed coach get 40 winks before Sunday's clash, despite him confessing that "if we'd have lost, I'd have committed suicide."

LLL Prediction - Goalless Draw

Atlético Madrid (8th) v Almería (16th)

Well. Atlético's midweek cup match against Universidad de Las Palmas in the Canary Islands went considerably better than the second division clash in 2000-01 - the one which ended in 2-1 defeat for the Rojiblancos and their then president Jesús Gil suggesting that the squad swim back.

Some nine years later, a Diego Forlán-free Atlético spanked Universidad 5-0 to make their second-leg tie in a fortnight a fairly easy affair for the Calderón club. The midweek clash also helpfully saw Quique Sánchez Flores serving his one-match suspension for Sunday's sending off against Villarreal.

Although the RFEF decision admitted that it wasn‚t entirely clear from the referee‚s report what Quique had done wrong during the clash, the governing body decided to punish him just for the hell of it anyway.

LLL Prediction - Home win

Athletic Bilbao (10th) v Getafe (7th)

Last weekend, Getafe's Ghanaian midfielder Derek Boateng scored his first-ever goal for the Coliseum club after a season and a bit in the Spanish capital. He also revealed what the first words in Spanish he ever learned were. "Son of a b*tch!‚ Manu del Moral told me this," announced Boateng proudly.
LLL Prediction - Home win


Mallorca (9th) v Levante (14th)

For this week at least, LLL's traditional trip to the cinema of a Monday night is back on. Oh yes, it is.

LLL Prediction - Home win