The Freebie-hoovering Weekend Predictions

SATURDAY

Athletic (10th) v Almería (16th)
LLL would not be at all surprised if Cristiano Ronaldo trotted out at El Molinón on Sunday with his wee fisties covered in bandages from hammering at walls and rubbing tear-stained eyes after hearing the news that he hadn't been voted the prettiest player in la Primera in a recently published poll. Not even in the top five, in fact.

Spanish magazine Don Balón has revealed the responses to its annual survey which quizzed 16 female football journalists on their opinions on the biggest hunk monsters in la Liga and have given the prize to dreamy Athletic Bilbao defender Aitor Ocio, with his teammate Fernando Llorente coming second. Espanyol forward Osvaldo squats in third, followed by Xabi Alonso and Gerard Piqué with no sign at all of a certain gel-haired Portuguese player.
LLL Prediction - Home win


The three hottest La Liga properties (Ocio, Llorente, Osvaldo)

Atlético Madrid (8th) v Osasuna (12th)
And so the “Diego Forlán Case” dribbles on for another week – despite LLL hearing from the horse’s mouth, as it were, on Sunday that the Rojiblanco striker had no plans to leave Atleti and that yes, he was quite aware that he was going through a bit of a barren spell on the goalscoring front, thank you very much.

A clearly bored Marca ran a headline story on Wednesday claiming that a mysterious, unnamed intermediary was hawking the Uruguayan to Real Madrid for a winter transfer window fee of €18m.

“Poppycock” was the response from Atleti president Enrique Cerezo, who denied that there was a rift between Quique Sánchez Flores and one of his prized - if ageing - possessions.

Cerezo also claimed that relations were “super-normal” between himself and the goal-dodging Diego, in what was a bit of a paradoxical statement, really.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Barcelona (2nd) v Villarreal (3rd)
Gerard Piqué is a bit of a cheeky rascal isn’t he? Having only just managed to make the world forget about his reprehensible gob at a member of Spain’s World Cup crew during the open-top bus victory parade of Madrid, the Barça defender caused a bit of a kerfuffle again on Wednesday night during the Copa del Rey clash against Ceuta.

As Piqué was suspended / omitted (LLL gave up trying to work out the Spanish FA regulations on such matters some time ago) and was sitting with Carles Puyol in the players’ section of the stands, the fifth best-looking player in la Primera passed the time by throwing peanuts at a bald fella in front of him and pretending it was his mega-permed companion. Unfortunately, Piqué was filmed doing so.

But before Piqué could find himself in hot water again, the centre-back revealed on Twitter with a photograph as evidence that the target of Gerard’s unwanted match day snacks was Barça physio and best buddy, Juanjo Brau.

Those long winter evenings must just fly by at the Camp Nou.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Zaragoza (19th) v Sevilla (6th)
Bad news from the Sánchez Pizjuán with Andrés Palop very much in the head over heels position over the concept of the new manager and apparent master of the mind, Gregorio Manzano. The goalkeeper reveals that the ‘Mister’ is not unlike a certain former Liverpool boss. “Manzano reminds me... of Rafa Benítez, a manager who was all about his teams winning,” mused Palop.

Meanwhile his club president, José Maria del Nido, was in magnificently grumpy form during the week, branding la Liga the worst in Europe due to its lack of financial equality compared to the Premier League and Champions League.

In an ill-tempered and spiky interview on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, del Nido warned that “if you broadcast a game which is going to be Real Madrid three, Racing nil then people will switch off the TV. There’s no colour.”
LLL Prediction - Away win

Hércules (17th) v Real Sociedad (7th)
The bad news for Hércules this week was the club’s elimination from the Copa del Rey at the first hurdle. The good news was that the the 3-2 defeat to Málaga saw the side’s first goalscorer of the season who was called neither Nelson Valdez nor David Trezeguet.

The man on the scoresheet was former Real Madrid man Javier “wow, I’d forgotten he existed” Portillo.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Racing Santander (14th) v Espanyol (4th)
The one Barça player who will almost certainly avoid a booing and a barracking the next time the Barcelona derby is played in El Prat-land is Andrés Iniesta. The Spanish midfielder’s gesture of displaying a vest dedicated to the memory of former Espanyol captain Dani Jarque when celebrating La Furia’s World Cup winning goal has made sure that Iniesta will forever be off the Perico blacklist.

It’s especially the case now with the generously foreheaded footballer attending a ceremony on Thursday at Espanyol’s stadium to hand over the vest to form part of a mural in tribute to the footballer who died suddenly of heart problems 15 months ago.

“Even before knowing him personally, he seemed like a star to me – but now I know he’s the same off the pitch,” was the praise from Espanyol president Daniel Sánchez Llibre.
LLL Prediction - Draw

Málaga (20th) v Levante (18th)
With the return of Manuel Pellegrini to management in Spain, Marca can keep up its rather vile venomous campaign against the former Real Madrid man, with the paper sounding more and more like a jilted lover by the day.

Every victory for his Castle Greyskull successor José Mourinho is used to make a not-so-sly dig at Pellegrini in the paper’s editorial and direct attacks from the paper’s director, Eduardo Inda.

So it’s no real surprise that Pellegrini’s name did not come up in the paper’s midweek Top 10 despite having lead Málaga to a Copa del Rey victory over Hércules in his first game in charge. LLL looks forward to seeing if Marca repeats its snub when Pellegrini chalks up victory number two on Sunday.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Mallorca (9th) v Deportivo (15th)
The financial situation is still rather confused at Mallorca, with former boss Gregorio Manzano taking legal action to reclaim some €2m in what he claims are owed wages and bonuses for himself and his coaching team, who left the club last summer.

Mallorca are now hitting back by asking the current Sevilla coach to pay back a bonus he received for keeping the Balearic club in the top flight - a bonus which was incorrect, say Mallorca. “So why give it to me?” was Manzano’s not unreasonable response.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Sporting (13th) v Real Madrid (1st)
Madrid’s Copa del Rey clash with Murcia on Wednesday night was a remarkably entertaining affair, with José Mourinho being given the first red card of his Spanish spell for telling the referee in no uncertain terms to f-off. But in Spanish.

Rather than taking a spot in the VIP area or retreating to a press box, Mourinho strolled off into the crowd and sat in the second row of the stands, a position he returned to in the second half (if nearer the Real Madrid bench).

In the press conference after the game Mourinho took the "let the audience make up their own minds" approach by noting that referee Paradas Romero had produced 264 yellow cards in 46 games, including 11 the previous weekend.

Romero also managed to give Real Madrid a goal that was clearly offside and awarded a soft second-half penalty to the home side, so ultimately the man in the middle was nothing but fair in his general idiocy.
LLL Prediction - Away win

Valencia (5th) v Getafe (11th)
Getafe’s Copa del Rey visitors on Thursday night, Portugalete, were almost journalistic in their desperate hunt for freebies. Lying somewhere oop north in the Basque Country and stuck in the third division, the club officials were certainly going to enjoy their time in the limelight. Make that candlelight: it's Getafe.

Portugalete requested 28 passes to the Coliseum’s VIP area, with club president Amable Martín admitting that “the mayor is traveling, some councillors, then you’ve got the Portugalete politicians who do their business in Madrid.”

This sudden influx of football fans witnessed a 0-0 draw, a tremendous miss from Javier Arizmendi and their team being eliminated from the cup with a 1-1 aggregate scoreline.

“No glory, no goals,” was the summary of the performance from the home side from a clearly bored AS, with manager Míchel noting that “on these occasions a coach that says nothing is worth more than one who talks.”
LLL Prediction - Home win 

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