La Liga in midweek action shock!

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A bleary-eyed blog was more than a little confused this morning by an early eye-full of AS. But of the newspaper kind, this time.

On the front cover of Spain's finest daily were pictures of the country’s sportsmen poodling around Capital City on an open-topped bus.

It was at this point that it realised that it was Spain’s basketball team returning home from the European Championships with the winners trophy.

And it was two milliseconds later that La Liga Loca remembered that the blog ranked basketball only marginally behind handball and ham-tossing in the league table of pointlessness of Spain’s most loved sports.

Marca certainly weren’t going to be diverted from their current Real Madrid raison d’etre by such frivolity and lead with the stunning Pulitzer Prize-winning story that Cristiano Ronaldo is in the running for la Liga’s top scorer 'Pichichi' award.

But even more miraculous than that is the revelation that the Madridista would quite like to win it, as well.

And this is how the two big papers have welcomed an extremely rare midweek round of league matches brought on by the need to finish the campaign a little earlier than normal to squeeze in the World Cup next summer.

Match Day Four (as UEFA would call it) gets going on Tuesday with Sevilla’s feisty home support expecting – nay, demanding – a win against Mallorca, a side currently in fourth but one that La Liga Loca expects to start showing its true rubbish colours any day now.

The second game is Barcelona’s testing tie at Racing Santander, with home manager Juan Carlos Mandía calling for a Cantabrian cauldron to greet the Catalans.

What’s more, the Racing manager is all with the fighting talk ahead of the crucial clash. “The statistics say that Pep’s Dream Boys have lost the occasional game and we must cling to this,” he fee-fi-fo-fummed.

In the opposition camp, Pep Guardiola revealed that he may be a mere mortal after all – despite the repeated claims of the manloved-up La Liga Loca - as not even he has a clue about how the whole football / Spanish television concept works, this season.

When probed by the press on whether he caught Real Madrid’s 5-0 win over Xerez, Pep repeated the phrase popular around most of the country – “I don’t have the platform that showed it.”

Espanyol’s groundsman will be a nervous, green-fingered gardener on Wednesday when Málaga come to town. Like Sergio Ramos, the Cornella pitch has been repeatedly laid over the summer, the last time being after it fell apart during the side’s clash with a trowel-armed Real Madrid.

Xerez have now gone three league games without a goal, a statistic that is starting to grate on everyone in the Andalusian side’s camp. But they see the visit of a leaky-looking Galician outfit as the perfect chance to right that wrong.

“We’ve got to score against Depor,” sighed Momo whilst having his head fondly patted by a paternal Cuco Ziganda who notes that “what the team is missing is the confidence with the final shot.” That, and a decent striker.

Real Madrid travel to Villarreal having managed their annual general meeting without the need for police involvement – for the moment, anyway – and announced that their debt was 327 million Euros, with income for the new financial year expected to be 422 million Euros.

And all thanks to the laugh-a-minute, sensational success of the Fernando Gago golden gaffes DVD.

Athletic Bilbao are probably already travelling to Tenerife for their Wednesday night clash, with the Basque side making savings to pay for their new 175 million Euro stadium by making the journey by fishing boat.

Valladolid host Osasuna in a tie that, quite honestly, no one really cares about, while Atlético Madrid will almost certainly be sacking coach Abel Resino this week should the Rojiblancos fail to beat Almería at the Vicente Calderón.

Going by the well-tested rule of never believing a word that falls from the gob of club president Enrique Cerezo, Resino’s rump is well and truly cooked: “Abel won’t only be the coach for the next game but for the rest of the season.”

Getafe face Valencia at the ludicrous time of 10 oi’clock on a Wednesday night. And the home side are still banging their heads on the wall of shame over Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Almería, with Fabio Celestini noting the differences between his team’s 4-3-3 system and that of Barcelona.

“Barça have possession but they kill you, whilst we lack aggression,” complained the Swiss midfielder.

Valencia have had a mini-storm of their own after the Spanish press leapt up on down on David Villa, accusing him of publicly punking his manager Unai Emery for getting his tactics wrong in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Sporting.

“Our set-up after the goal wasn’t right,” grumbled Villa, comments that he was forced to retract on a day later. “I was referring to the collective, to everyone, but first of all to me,” blagged the four-goals-this-season forward.

The final game of the round takes place on Thursday night for no good reason and features Sporting taking on Zaragoza, who may be on the brink of their own mini-storm after consecutive defeats to Sevilla and Valladolid.

LLL Predictions
Sevilla v Mallorca - Home win
Racing v Barcelona - Away win
Espanyol v Málaga - Home win
Xerez v Deportivo - Away win
Villarreal v Real Madrid - Draw
Tenerife v Athletic - Home win
Valladolid v Osasuna - Home win
Atlético v Almería - Home win
Getafe v Valencia - Home win
Sporting v Zaragoza - Draw

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