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La Preview: Atlético’s cunning plan and Pep's preoccupation


Rayo Vallecano (10th) v Valencia (3rd) - 18.00 (local time)
In a brilliant bit of Saturday night scheduling, it has been decided that if you happen to be a fan of both Rayo and Atlético or Getafe and Real Madrid - which is true of a surprisingly large group of people - then you can only catch just the one game this weekend due to the back-to-back nature of all the matches. Indeed, Rayo supporters are already miffed at the LFP due to their upcoming clash at Barcelona being moved twice due to the World Club Championships.
This is why the always feisty Rayo supporters groups will be making protests on Saturday and asking for compensation from the LFP for any traveling costs incurred for fans who made their bookings before the match was moved. Good luck with that, is the message from La Liga Loca.
LLL Prediction - Away win

Real Madrid (1st) v Atlético Madrid (9th) - 20.00
Atlético have a few differing plans in mind for beating Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time in 12 years and for the first time in the league for 21 games. Gregorio Manzano has suggested not making any mistakes; Gabi is plumping for showing everyone who Atlético are, while Miranda reckons playing the match as if it is the last game of their lives will do the trick.
AS notes that 24 sides have beaten Real Madrid in the league since AtléticoâÂÂs last win in 1999 along with six in the Copa del Rey - teams including Toledo, Real Unión and of course, Alcorcón. LLL isn't sure whether this is supposed to be encouraging or taunting Atlético...
Topping the charts of victories against Madrid during AtléticoâÂÂs drought are Deportivo and Barcelona with nine apiece, then Sevilla with seven. Heck, even Mallorca have managed a win on six occasions. Then thereâÂÂs the single victories for Las Palmas, Murcia, Sporting and Numancia - all boldly going where Atlético boldly gone.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Getafe (15th) v Barcelona (2nd) - 22.00
Sometimes you just want a manager to answer the question, âÂÂso what about SaturdayâÂÂs game?â with âÂÂDonâÂÂt know. Who are we playing? Oh, 5-0. Easy.â Pep Guardiola failed to take this approach and win the blogâÂÂs heart forever when probed about the visit to Getafe and their terrifyingly hostile stadium this weekend. âÂÂSaturdayâÂÂs game is going to be tough,â warned the Dream Boys boss. âÂÂItâÂÂll be cold, not much rest...IâÂÂve been concerned about this match for a few days,â fibbed Guardiola politely.
Luis García on the other hand fancies his chances against Barça and is âÂÂconvinced we can beat them.â âÂÂBarça suffer at set-pieces as they are not tall except for Pique and Busquets.âÂÂ
LLL Prediction - Away win


Betis (13th) v Real Sociedad (19th) - 12.00
ItâÂÂs the midday battle of the doomed bosses! Betis have picked up a less than praise-worthy one point from the last 24 available, while Real Sociedad have also been pulling up trees in the loser stakes with two points from the past eight games. Because neither side have a lot of cash floating about itâÂÂs tough to know whether Pepe Mel or Philippe Montanier are on the brink of the sack.
Betis president Miguel Guillén, who does look like a firm hand on the tiller of the club, has said that âÂÂcalm, unity and hard work,â will get the club through itâÂÂs difficult spell and that âÂÂthe board isnâÂÂt planning a change of coach at the moment.â A failure to beat the visitors from San Sebastian could change that pretty swiftly.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Levante (4th) v Sporting (14th) - 16.00
Despite three defeats in a row, LLL saw for itself on Sunday against Atlético Madrid that Levante still have all their marbles intact. Ten men behind the ball for the first half, a solo striker for counter-attacks and then remarkable incisiveness in the second forty-five minutes. It was certainly a plan that almost worked in the Vicente Calderón with Levante only losing 3-2. LLL reckons it will work again on Sunday.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Mallorca (16th) v Racing Santander (20th) - 18.00
The bad news for Racing boss Héctor Cúper was that MondayâÂÂs 3-1 home defeat to Málaga saw the club fall to the bottom of the table. There was at least some good news from Marca, who report that the clubâÂÂs administrators have told the bosses that there is no money to sack Cúper should they wish to do so. Unfortunately, they also said there was no cash to fund any transfers in the winter window without players being sold or sacked.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Espanyol (8th) v Osasuna (11th) - 18.00
Although Paul from Barcelona is a regular correspondent on all things Espanyol, LLL hasnâÂÂt had that much to say about them this year. ThatâÂÂs because the club has been going about its business very quietly, very professionally and without much kerfuffle. And thatâÂÂs not a good way to get the blogâÂÂs attention, although itâÂÂs the perfect way to run a football club.
For example, this weekâÂÂs stories out of El Prat concern the team wanting to score a few more goals and looking to renew the contracts of ÃÂlvaro and Javi Márquez. And thatâÂÂs a tough sell compared to RacingâÂÂs owner being investigated by Interpol and a member of the Betis board banging on about confidence being like a hymen as happened last week. So the lesson is, as soon Espanyol does receive more attention from LLL, then thatâÂÂs probably a very bad thing.
LLL Prediction - A quiet home win

Athletic Bilbao (7th) v Granada (18th) - 19.45
Although the incident that saw an assistant referee hit in the face by an umbrella, subseqeuntly causing SundayâÂÂs clash with Mallorca to be suspended, looked like being the result of a malfunctioning, misfiring device and not malice, Granada have still been taken to task over the affair.
Granada have been ordered by the Spanish FA to replay the final 30 minutes of the game behind closed doors on December 7th and have been hit with a â¬6,000 fine - a punishment that the club will be appealing. âÂÂGranada will be using proof that we didnâÂÂt have to hand before such as police reports,â explained González Segura, a member of the board.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Zaragoza (17th) v Sevilla (6th) - 21.30
LLLâÂÂs "that canâÂÂt be good" detector went off on Wednesday. It went off when it heard a footballer saying that the coach is not to blame for a bad run but that the players are. Of course, that actually means the coach is entirely to blame for a bad run and not the players at all.  
The alarm went off after comments made by Frederic Kanouté, whose side are currently without a win in five. âÂÂWeâÂÂre happy with the work in training and with tactics. We are lacking application during matches. ItâÂÂs easy to sack coaches and directors. We are all worried but as a footballer first of all I look at myself and my teammates and we are still not doing things well enough,â admitted the Sevilla striker. Oh dear.
LLL Prediction - Away win


Málaga (5th) v Villarreal (12th) - 21.00
Monday night sees wee Santi Cazorla reacquainting himself with the club he ruined by leaving. That does sound a bit harsh in writing, as it technically wasnâÂÂt his fault. As the Villarreal president admitted either the playmaker or Giuseppe Rossi had to go to balance the Madrigal books.
âÂÂIt wonâÂÂt just be any other game, itâÂÂs something different,â mused Cazorla ahead of next weekâÂÂs clash. The midfielder also ruminated on VillarrealâÂÂs awful start to the season which saw them fumbling about in the relegation zone for a while. âÂÂYou have to take into account the injuries theyâÂÂve had and they didnâÂÂt start well. Confidence and pressure can count for a lot, but theyâÂÂve got a good squad and are starting to move up the table.âÂÂ
LLL Prediction - Home win