La Preview: Big love in Bilbao and rage against Reyes

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Granada (16th) v Sporting (19th) – 18.00 (all KOs local time)
Thought Sporting were in trouble, second-from-bottom of the table and three points from safety? Well, you are quite, quite wrong. The Gijón side’s Uruguayan midfielder, Sebastián Eguren, has some big news for both you, Mr (or Ms, Miss or Mrs) Smarty Pants, and the club’s fans ahead of this weekend’s relegation battle.
“The match is worth seven points: the three that Sporting win, the three that Granada don’t win and the extra point would be for the goal average,” said the midfielder, recalling his team’s 2-0 win earlier this season against Saturday’s opponents.
LLL Prediction – Draw

Zaragoza (20th) v Osasuna (6th) – 18.00
As there’s not a great deal worth talking about in the football sense with Zaragoza any more – not that football has ever been a key theme of LLL – it’s time to dish the latest dirt on Zaragoza and the club’s owner/president, Agapito Iglesias. Last week, it was revealed that Iglesias was trying to sell the club to fine, upstanding candidates only. This time around, the story is that a judge is investigating possible financial impropriety that may involve the owner.
A transaction is being probed in which half a million euros of a 2008 transfer fee from Betis to Zaragoza for Sergio García was allegedly spent on a deposit for a luxury apartment which was purchased in the name of Real Zaragoza.
LLL Prediction – Draw

Getafe (13th) v Real Sociedad (11th) – 18.00
Cata Díaz is a footballer who is often seen, but rarely heard. Correction – Cata Díaz is a terrifying footballer who is often seen, but rarely heard; a proper, scary, doesn’t-need-to-look-or-act-hard-to-be-hard footballer. The Getafe defender has played every minute of every league game this season, but a fifth yellow card of the season in the win against Villarreal on Monday night sees the centre-back suspended on Saturday.
So the Argentine stopper celebrated this chance to put his feet up by having a quick chat with Marca about his recent call-up to his national side and a certain, oft-talked-about compatriot. “Messi doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone – he’s the best in the world,” said Díaz, daring anyone to disagree with him.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Sevilla (12th) v Barcelona (2nd) – 20.00
Fine, upstanding citizen of Andalusia and president of Sevilla, José María del Nido, is feeling a little upset with his players, with one in particular standing out in the Sevilla leader’s bad books. After Saturday’s defeat at Sporting for Míchel González’s men, del Nido announced that he felt the footballing members of his team who are also internationals are “not giving the same performance than they are at other places". He added, "We have to look for a formula so that they perform here, for those who pay them."
José Antonio Reyes received a special mention, unsurprising as the winger has not done a great deal since a move to Sevilla from Atletico over the winter transfer window. “José Antonio is not giving the performance we were hoping for,” said del Nido – someone who knows all about the feeling of being cheated and defrauded. And not even allegedly.
LLL Prediction – Away win

Rayo Vallecano (10th) v Betis (15th) – 22.00
Rayo suspected that they had got away with a cheeky one and were going to be able to play talented forward Lass Bangoura on Saturday, despite the 19-year-old receiving a fifth yellow card during last week’s horrendous 5-1 defeat at Espanyol.
The referee had got his figures mixed up and the post-match report reflected that no.25 (goalkeeper Joel) had been booked instead of no.27 Lass. Rayo decided to keep quiet on the affair rather than appeal, but their cunning plan was scuppered when the official, Fernando Teixeira Vitienes, realised his error and sent through a post-match addendum to the Spanish FA, which sees Lass sitting out Saturday’s late-night special after all.
LLL Prediction – Home win 


Levante (5th) v Villarreal (17th) – 12.00
Villarreal supporters will be observing Levante’s players running out onto the pitch on Sunday with a sad moan of “That’s supposed to be us” – a team fighting for the Champions League places. Villarreal’s form has not improved under José Molina, a fact reflected by Monday’s lame home defeat to Getafe. However, the only performing player for the Yellow Submarine this season, Borja Valero, still had some fighting talk for the fans.
“We weren’t tall, handsome and good when things were going well, and we are not ugly, short and a disaster now,” ranted the playmaker, helpfully.

LLL Prediction – Away win

Mallorca (14th) v Atlético Madrid (8th) – 16.00
A while ago, LLL remembered that Atlético Madrid president, Enrique Cerezo, vowed in quite a huff that he would never speak openly about football ever again, seeing as he had a lot of his sporting decision-making powers taken away from him. That lasted about three days. Cerezo was tongue-flapping again this week when probed on Kun Agüero, and made some statements that might make the club’s fans raise an eyebrow or two in both surprise and disagreement.

“His departure didn't go well – he could have left things perfectly well with the fans. But we have a great affection for him: he was the most loved player of all time at Atlético.” Strong words.
LLL Prediction – Draw

Athletic Bilbao (7th) v Valencia (3rd) - 18.00
Failing to heed LLL’s snooty tweet last week, in regards to the paper’s obsession with toadying to Real Madrid in the face of other, more relevant news in Spain, AS were at it again on Friday. Iker Casillas was splashed on the front cover ahead of the Champions League draw, rather than the wonderful performances of Athletic, Atlético and even Valencia, all of whom went through to the next stages of the Europa League.
But once again it was Athletic Bilbao that stole LLL’s heart with another victory over Manchester United. And they also won over Sir Alex Ferguson, who said that “he had never seen a team like this in Europe” and wanted Athletic to go all the way through to the final.
LLL Prediction – Draw

Real Madrid (1st) v Málaga (4th) – 21.30
LLL always gives a skip and squeal whenever it hears that former Real Madrid president, Ramon Calderón, has been waffling away about whatever pops into his head at the time. This week, Calderón – currently under investigation for questionable activites undertaken during his spell at the Santiago Bernabeu – was complaining about how seedy everything has become under his successor, Florentino Pérez.
“The traditional ‘image of the señor’ of Real Madrid has deteriorated," he said. "The club allowed a banner of ‘Mou, your finger shows us the way’ (into the stadium), a horrible moment.” Calderón also claimed that Pérez tried to force Iker Casillas from the club. “Florentino wanted Buffon. He didn’t want to renew Casillas' contract and he was close to leaving the year it ran out.”
LLL Prediction – Home win


Espanyol (9th) v Racing Santander (18th) – 21.00
Espanyol’s latest bright young thing made a mark for himself in last weekend’s 5-1 win over Rayo. Midfielder Paul Quaye became the youngest Perico player to feature in la Primera, at 16 years and 177 days. The Ghanian joined the club in 2009 and has been guided along his way by mentor and coach Javi Peña, and also the senior players – claims Peña: “I will forever be grateful to [35-year-old striker Walter] Pandiani and everything he’s done for him.”
LLL Prediction – Home win