Match Previews

La Preview: Bathrooms, Benzema and Espanyol’s bright new world

Tim Stannard sets you up for the weekend's La Liga action...

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La Liga Loca appreciates that not everyone may have the time to plough through a thousand words or so on another fine mess of a week in the world of Spanish football, and the upcoming posers for the weekend. So, here is a handy service. A cheeky breakdown. Stand by your stovetops. A Real Madrid player spent a night in a French police cell, Getafe had their bathroom trashed by Barcelona, or did they? Atlético possess their best forward line for years, but can’t score goals. Valencia’s crisis-o’meter is up to 8 after a midweek defeat to KAA Gent in a “shameful” display according to their manager. And Espanyol suddenly became rich.

Now off you go about your day. But for the stragglers…

Can Real Madrid move on from star striker shenanigans?

LLL has gone into imagination mode by pondering the small-talk between Unai Emery and Rafa Benítez, before the managers meet ahead of Sevilla against Real Madrid. And maybe a little bit on what they would be wearing too. Oh yes.

“‘Sup,” says Unai. “Stuff. You?” “You know, I might get fired, just a few months after winning the Europa League, finishing fifth, then having my best players sold. You?”

Rafa paused. “Well. My own best player switches between saying he is leaving, going, leaving, going and only turns up for occasional games these days. And my only striker has been implicated in a blackmail sex-tape plot with Mathieu Valbuena. The usual.”

Why would anyone want to watch Mathieu Valbuena making babies?

Unsurprisingly, it is the latter that has grabbed the attention of the Madrid press after Karim Benzema spent the night in a Paris jail whilst being questioned over his involvement in a very bizarre business that leaves one huge question. Exactly, why would anyone want to watch Mathieu Valbuena making babies? Antoine Griezmann, maybe.

But throw this kerfuffle in, along with Benzema’s constant driving-related legal issues, and it is not a great image for one of Florentino’s favourites. “Madrid have their fingers crossed that this ends well. But the question is if this is possible, and what will come next,” was the warning from AS editor, Alfredo Relaño.

Sevilla vs Real Madrid - Sunday 20:30 CET

Can Getafe flush away bathroom-gate blues?

The only story that really interested LLL this week was “Getafe bathroom-gate,” where the facilities in the visitors dressing room at the Coliseum were covered in fake blood, after Barcelona’s impromptu Halloween party. Naturally, the Madrid club were much indignant, especially after a player press conference was interrupted last week by marauding, masked Barca players. Images of the rock-and-roll style trashing were issued and apologies sought. And they were received from Iniesta, in terms of the mask incident.

“We made a mistake as a team and should learn from it,” said Andrés Iniesta. But then Dani Alves threw an interesting spanner into the mix. “We didn’t mess up the dressing room like this,” claimed the defender on Tuesday, “someone did it to say it was us.” The plot thickens on that one. Meanwhile Getafe are heading to Eibar, to avoid the same fate as capital city minnows, Rayo, that lost out in the Basque Country last week. Barcelona have much bigger fish to fry with the visit of Villarreal.

Barcelona vs Villarreal - Sunday 16.00 CET 

Eibar vs Getafe - Saturday 20.30 CET 

Can Las Palmas lift spirits of misfiring forward?

Now LLL is not really the kind-hearted, sympathetic type. But it did feel something weird stirring inside when it read an interview with the clearly much-troubled forward Sergio Araujo.

Now Araujo was a bit of a star player in La Segunda last season, scoring 22 in 39 league matches, one of the key reasons why the Canary Islanders were able to clamber back into the top flight spotlight. This season the forward has managed just one goal in 10.

The drying up of the goal geezer has left the Argentinean feeling a little deflated about the whole affair. “I’m not a goal-scorer,” confessed Araujo, “the luck I had last year, was just last year.” “People are expecting me to score 30, but if I score five it will be a lot,” sighed the down-in-the-dumps striker.

I’m not a goalscorer. The luck I had last year, was just last year

- Araujo

Araujo has a decent chance of doubling his tally on Friday night with the visit of a Real Sociedad side that is going through an iffy season under David Moyes and might even end up in the relegation zone at the end of the weekend.

At least there were some encouraging words from his manager, Quique Setien, who is taking charge of his third game at the club. “It’s logical that he is worried, but we are going to try and get him back, so he can go on and score 20 goals.”

David Moyes also offered some support that Las Palmas were of a more attacking bent under the new boss. “They’ve switched from a 3-5-1 to a 4-3-3,” noted the Scotsman.

Las Palmas vs Real Sociedad - Friday 20.30 CEST

Will Espanyol start bright new future at San Mamés?

There may well be a spring in the step of the Espanyol players as they trot out onto the San Mamés pitch on Sunday morning, as for the first time in probably centuries the club may have some money.

During the week, the sale of 45.1% of the clubs shares was sold to the China-based “Raster Group,” with former club president, Daniel Sánchez Llibre declaring that “the suffering is over.”

That suffering included hefty debts to the Spanish tax authorities and the constant need to sell players - thrifty times that are in the past, apparently.

The institution's immediate debts are set to be paid off, although there will reportedly not be any spending on the squad until the summer. “Saving this money [on repayments] and with  the extra investment, Espanyol will be where it deserves: fighting between fourth and sixth.”

Curiously, that makes Sunday’s clash against Athletic a match against a direct rival that is rather buoyed at the moment, by a four match winning streak and a bit of a goal-fest to boot. The latest was a 5-1 win over Partizan that saw two more goals from Iñaki Williams.

Athletic Club vs Espanyol - Sunday 12.00 CEST

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