La Preview – Sevilla’s French middle finger, Marca’s maths and Piqué’s pique


Getafe (12th) v Espanyol (5th) – 18.00 (local time)
Whilst Rayo are busy raising ticket prices, across town Getafe are dropping them to get more than a handful of fans into the Coliseum for Saturday’s Espanyol clash. Last week, LLL reported that tickets were being given away to supporters who spend more than €40 in the club shop, although the blog doubts there's anything in the club kiosk worth paying more than €40 for. A night out with Dani Güiza, perhaps.

AS report that Getafe are going a step further for the weekend’s clash by dropping the price for the cheapest ticket to €30, prompting speculation as to why that isn’t the usual price anyway, considering Getafe matches have hardly been thrilling affairs of late.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Real Madrid (1st) v Racing Santander (18th) – 20.00
This week, Marca were able to veer away from their 10-point-lead-inspired "Real Madrid / Mourinho / Ronaldo is blooming fantastic" editorial theme to trumpet the publication of the paper’s 25,000th edition – a fine achievement. But this got the egg-heads at the ever-excellent Spanish sports media watchers La Libreta de Van Gaal a little suspicious.

La Libreta managed to dig out the front cover of Marca’s 20,000th edition from November 1st 2003. So according to Marca’s maths, they've published 5,000 editions in around 3,000 days – prolific, to say the least.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Sevilla (13th) v Osasuna (8th) – 22.00
You’d have thought that those footballing folks at Sevilla would be far too busy bedding in new manager Míchel while desperately spinning the message to fans that the former Getafe coach is the right man for the job and not an evil Madridista at heart.

But it appears that there was still time to have a pop at the French, currently Spain's bad guys after a satirical puppet show made unsubtle suggestions that all of Spain’s greatest sporting triumphs stemmed from some naughty medicinal help.

The likes of Marca and AS and even the Spanish government registered their displeasure – and for Míchel's debut at Real Sociedad, Sevilla sent the team out wearing shirts emblazoned with the logo “liberté, egalité, superiority”.

Technically, that kind of naughtiness is very much against FIFA regulations and is punishable if the referee reports it – but the man in the middle failed to take note, for some reason.
LLL Prediction – Home win


Granada (17th) v Real Sociedad (11th) – 12.00
Last season, there was an awful lot of talk about the fine performances of Xabi Prieto, la Real’s impressive playmaker. Indeed there was even ‘Spanish international’ talk wafting in the wind at one point. This year, Prieto has been considerably quieter – but the midfielder bucked up his tactical ideas at last during Monday’s 2-0 win over Sevilla. “It was my best performance, but it wasn’t hard to beat the games I’ve played up to now,” he said, with commendable honesty.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Athletic Bilbao (6th) v Málaga (7th) – 16.00
There were helpful graphics appearing in Thursday's sports papers informing readers of how Athletic would be handle the freezing temperatures of Moscow in their Europa League tie with Lokomotiv; these ingenious measures included wearing things called gloves to keep their Basque handies warm. In the end, it wasn’t enough, with the Ruskies taking a 2-1 lead back to Bilbao for the second leg.

Atlético Madrid and Valencia kept the Spanish end up, as it were: the Rojiblancos gave Johnny Italian something to think about with a 3-1 win at Lazio, while Unai Emery’s men won 1-0 at Stoke thanks to a Mehmet Topal piledriver. “Football is played with your feet,” noted a sniffy Marca the next morning.
LLL Prediction – Draw

Sporting (19th) v Atlético Madrid (6th) – 18.00
Last week, the word on the Sporting street was that former No.2 Iñaki Tejada would replace Manuel Preciado after the longserving coach was dumped by the club. This is no longer the case. Instead, Sporting have appointed la Primera's prickliest figure, Javier Clemente; the Basque barnstormer is now in charge of his ninth club in Spain.

The message from Clemente when unveiled to the media and fans on Tuesday was very similar to that of Diego Simeone, the coach of Sunday’s opponents: “I’m going to ask [the players] for hard work, effort and sacrifice.” Fancy football is definitely going to be off the menu for Sporting who are currently six points from safety. “I’m not going to lose too much time looking at how to play pretty football. What’s most important is to be positive and win,” promised Clemente.
LLL Prediction – Draw

Mallorca (16th) v Villarreal (15th) – 18.00
A revival in form for the inspirational figure of Borja Valero has lead to a revival in form for Villarreal, who have now gone four matches unbeaten. It has also lead to a revival in stories concerning the midfielder moving to a bigger and better world next season – the Santiago Bernabeu. “They're talking about Real Madrid now,” chuckled the former WBA footballer. “It was Barça before. But I don’t think they are going to pay millions and millions for me,” said Borja with quaint modesty.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Levante (4th) v Rayo Vallecano (10th) – 19.45
Despite an impressive protest in the stands during Sunday’s clash with Getafe, the Rayo fans have lost a battle against the owners over the 'Day of the Club' against Real Madrid next week – the tradition that sees season ticket holders having to pay extra for their seat, normally in matches against the league leaders and Barcelona.

This year, socios will have to pay an extra €25 with the promise that there will be a reward some time next season. But as one fan noted to LLL, supporters were aware of the ‘Day of the Club’ plans at the beginning of the current campaign, so there wasn’t too much they could do it about it any way.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Barcelona (2nd) v Valencia (1st) – 21.30
“Pep and Piqué, sitting in a tree, F-I-G-H-T-I-N-G”. That’s the infantile vibe coming out of Catalunya this week after the centre-back was punished for a lamentable display against Osasuna in la Liga by being made to sit in the stands during Barça’s 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen. Reports are that Guardiola is not happy at all with his defender, due to his high-profile relationship with Shakira, footage of him rafting during his summer holidays, and playing football like a spanner.

However, Piqué’s apparent displeasure at being dropped from the team – and that of the footballer’s father José towards the manager – is a big positive for the pair, says a straw-grasping Joan Vehils in Thursday’s Sport. “The worrying thing would be if Piqué was happy to be in the stands and his father happy to fly to Germany and not see his son play.”
LLL Prediction – Home win


Zaragoza (20th) v Betis (14th) – 21.00
Least surprising headline of the week in the Spanish sports press concerned Zaragoza owner and president Agapito Iglesias, a gentleman who let’s just say has his fingers in all kinds of different pies. “Iglesias being investigated by tax authorities,” reports AS, concerning oddness during the sale of midfielder Ander Herrera from Zaragoza to Athletic Bilbao over the summer.
LLL Prediction – Draw