La Preview: Iniesta buys stake in a football club as Atlético plan a big move

Saturday

Levante (4th) v Sevilla (5th) - 18.00 (local time)
It could be striker switcheroo time at the Sánchez Pizjuán over the winter transfer window, with Frederic Kanouté possibly off to join Samuel Eto’o at Anzhi with the Malian’s agent, Christoph Mongai, revealing that there have been offers from “Qatar, the US and Russia.” It is claimed Sevilla will look to replace one forward signed from Tottenham with another, with Mexican Giovani dos Santos, who did rather well for Racing Santander on a loan spell last year under current Sevilla boss Marcelino, said to be their primary target.
LLL Prediction - Draw

Betis (17th) v Valencia (3rd) - 20.00
In either an act of kindness, sensible thinking or because the club is too broke too pay for an expensive dismissal, Betis president Miguel Guillén has claimed that Pepe Mel can sleep soundly at night - something the coach admitted hasn’t happened too often recently - and not fret over his immediate future. This is despite a run that has seen Betis take just a single point from their last ten games.
“Whatever happens against Valencia, Pepe Mel will finish the season. He’s our manager, we signed him for three years for a long project and has our confidence,” claimed Guillén.  
LLL - Draw

Real Madrid (1st) v Barcelona (2nd) - 22.00
Despite such vast bitterness and bragging being hurled about by the media and fans of the two feuding sides - hugely enjoyably for LLL to cover throughout the week, of course - the blog is instead going to bring a heartwarming tale of a footballer remembering his home town club.
Andrés Iniesta was unfortunate enough to come from the rather empty, desolate zone surrounding Albacete, whose football club he played for before being whisked off to la Masia as a nipper. But Iniesta has remained a fan of the third tier club had has leant a helping hand to an institution in financial difficulties by becoming Albacete’s majority shareholder after a €420,000 investment, which gives the Barça midfielder a 21% stake in the club.
LLL Prediction - Draw (1-1 to be precise)

Sunday

Rayo Vallecano (11th) v Sporting (19th) - 12.00
Despite Sporting currently struggling for survival in la Primera - and winning that battle of late - the supporters and members, all 21,800 of them, are pretty much always behind the players and coach in a very non-Blackburn way. That’s because the Sporting massive remember all too well how things were in the club’s recent history, claims president, Manuel Vega-Arango in an interview - and over huge lunch by the looks of it - with Marca.
“We’ve come from being a club with nearly €60m in debt, no owners, partners or sponsorship, that was in genuine ruins in the second division and on the brink of relegation. This was not that long ago,” recalled Sporting’s big cheese.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Villarreal (15th) v Real Sociedad (13th) - 16.00
Although Manchester United supporters and certain members of their playing squad may not be happy with tootling about in the Europa League, Villarreal manager Juan Carlos Garrido misses the tournament like mad.
Last season, the Yellow Submarine made it all the way to the semi-finals. This year Villarreal managed to lose all six games in the competition's bigger, sexier, richer brother, the final defeat being against Napoli on Wednesday night.
“We’ve paid with physical and mental blows,” admitted the Villarreal boss. “It’s easier to be in the Europa League. The Champions League has its cost.”
LLL Prediction - Home win 

Getafe (16th) v Granada (12th) - 16.00
With fans cheering outside the ground, Granada ran out to an empty stadium on Wednesday to play the final half an hour of their clash against Mallorca - the game that had been suspended on 20th November with Granada winning 2-1 after an umbrella hit an assistant referee in the face.
The match finally ended 2-2 with Mallorca being awarded an iffy penalty which made the whole experience a miserable one for Granada manager, Fabri, who was not a happy camper at all. “What happened today was theatre that began with the suspension of the match that had a fourth official available. We could have saved ourselves good money.”
LLL Prediction - Home win

Málaga (18.00) v Osasuna (7th) - 18.00
The accusation was enough to bring the fullback to tears. the notion that the Betis player was helping the club with whom he spent last season by providing an insight into his current side's tactical masterplan ahead of their meeting last weekend. The moment came when a camera caught Nelson chatting to Osasuna number two, Alfredo, before last weekend’s defeat in Pamplona and apparently explaining to the coach how Betis would line-up even before the teams had been formally announced.
However, the very upset - and probably quite worried - defender claimed it wasn’t as bad as it looked. “Alfredo had two pieces of paper, one with the whole squad and one on which I appeared. The other had those called up, and in different colours the starters and subs,” explained the big Betis sneak. “I asked him who was going to play, it wasn’t him asking me. I didn’t know the eleven!”
LLL Prediction - Home win

Zaragoza (20th) v Mallorca (14th) - 18.00
If there’s one team who should have been accustomed to playing in a stadium without fans it’s Mallorca, who were hosted by Granada and the side’s empty ground on Wednesday night.
The Iberostar stands are regularly bereft of bodies, so Caparrós knew from experience that “football without crowds loses a lot” and that w“playing without supporters is more difficult for the home team.”
LLL Prediction - Home win

Athletic Bilbao (9th) v Racing Santander (18th) - 19.45
LLL was quite taken aback to read that Fernando Llorente was on the brink of physical collapse. Well, the striker’s left knee, anyway. Apparently the big man of Bilbao has been playing in some pain and needs a rest having not missed a league game since November 2009, featuring in 79 consecutive matches. Which is quite mad really.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Espanyol (10th) v Atlético Madrid (8th)
With ex-players and ex-managers gathered together on Monday - it was a very large room - Atlético Madrid revealed the plans for the club’s new stadium due to be opened in time for the 2015-16 season. The 67,500 capacity ground is set to be paid for by the proceeds of the sale of the land of the current - and extremely rundown - stadium, and is located on the east side of the city, and will be a big pain in the bum to travel to should LLL still be about in four years time.
Unfortunately, the club’s Director General Miguel Angel Gil was unable to take charge of the proceedings on the night having suffered injuries from falling down the stairs - club president, Enrique Cerezo, was not thought to be present at the time - and so it was left for journalist Juan Ramon Lucas to call for what Marca described as “an emotive applause for the late Jesús Gil,” - a figure not particularly popular among many sections of the Atlético Madrid massive.
LLL Prediction - Away win

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