La Preview: Málaga’s magic night & Ronaldo’s attack on society

SATURDAY
Celta Vigo (18th) v Osasuna (19th)
– 16.00 local time
Pity poor Celta Vigo, a side that everyone is just tickled pink about on their return to la Primera. Unfortunately, the team are finding their new world a rather difficult dimension to get used to. “It’s a lot harder to get started than I imagined,” sighed club captain Borja Oubiña. “It’s not easy to play against sides in la Primera, as teams don’t give you the ball,” lamented the midfielder whose troubles will probably be over once the Atlético Madrid back four return to usual form and come to town.

Celta may have better luck this weekend as Osasuna are more about pressing than possession, but will be doing so on Saturday afternoon – yes, afternoon, not midnight – without Patxi Puñal, who has received a four-game ban for being very mean indeed to referee Muñiz Fernándes during last weekend’s Barcelona defeat.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Zaragoza (11th) v Málaga (8th) – 18.00
Tick, tock, tick, tock. That’s supposed to be a clock, by the way. It’s the clock of destiny running down before Málaga can’t buy any more players until January for their three competitions this season – la Liga, Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

And it’s hats in the air to celebrate of the last of these challenges after a 2-0 aggregate win over Panathinaikos in a qualifying double-header. This puts the southern side into a group with Milan, Zenit and Anderlecht, which could have been a whole lot worse for Málaga.

At time of writing the Spanish side have signed a grand total of two footballers and the club’s agents are going to have to be busy bees if Manuel Pellegrini is to have his appetite sated. “When the season finished, we said we needed four players and six left. That makes 10 now,” abacused the Málaga manager optimistically on Tuesday.
LLL Prediction – Away win

Deportivo (5th) v Getafe (10th) – 20.00
Interesting. Very interesting. If Marca have got the right end of the stick, the loan transfer of Valencia youngster Paco Alcácer to Getafe has a curious twist to it. Often, clubs agree extra money if a footballer plays above a certain amount of games a season. The reverse is apparently true here, with Marca claiming that the Coliseum club will have to pay a fine if  the 18-year-old international striker fails to play in less than 20 official games.

Considering that Getafe’s other forwards currently include Adrian Colunga and Dani Güiza, LLL doesn’t think that the club will have to be dipping into their pockets.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Mallorca (7th) v Real Sociedad (12th) – 22.00
The image has been good, beamed Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate, discussing his side’s start to the season which has seen one win and a draw. Not if you’ve had to watch this particular image it hasn’t.
LLL Prediction – Home win

SUNDAY
Rayo Vallecano (3rd) v Sevilla (6th)
– 12.00
Rayo fans gave a huge sigh of relief at the end last year, not just because the team had successfully stayed up in the final seconds of the campaign, but because calamitous goalkeeper David Cobeño had opted not to renew his contract and was heading to Romania to play for Vaslui. However, the 30-year-old did not take well to life in Eastern Europe and is back at Rayo two months after departing, to leave the Vallecas side with four first-team keepers. So perhaps the news isn’t all bad for supporters after all.
LLL Prediction – Away win

Athletic Bilbao (20th) v Valladolid (2nd) – 16.00
One down, one more to go. Or not. All depends on what happens on Friday with Fernando Llorente, which will be far too late for this blog. Instead, all it knows is that the Javi Martínez transfer saga is finally over. Good news for Martínez no doubt, but bad news for Athletic Bilbao – apart from the €40m injection – and also la Liga, which loses yet another great player to foreign climes.

The midfielder / defender forced through the transfer on his own by heading to Bayern Munich, apparently without permission from his then employers. What’s more, Martínez doesn’t seem too bothered by the pricetag hanging around his neck (not literally). “The situation reminds me of when I came to Athletic from Osasuna,” recalled Bayern’s most expensive signing. “Athletic paid €6m, I was only 17 and it wasn’t a pressure for me but a motivation.”

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Athletic ensured that he won’t be welcome around San Mamés parts any time soon with the club’s website declaring their “disappointment for the decision taken by Martínez, that he didn’t consider our sporting project sufficiently attractive.” Oooh, hark at her!
LLL Prediction – Home win

Levante (16th) v Espanyol (17th) – 18.00
Solid as rock. Nope, LLL certainly isn’t talking about Espanyol but Levante, who cruised to a double-headed victory against the mighty Motherwell to put themselves into the group stages of the Europa League along with Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. “It’s a historic qualification,” claimed Juan Ignacio Martínez, “it’s something to enjoy – but we can’t forget the la Liga which is our bread every day.”

At time of writing, the Europa draw has not been made. And LLL is far too busy and important to update this entry later on. But fear not! The blog is going to rely on the ever dependable FFT editors to insert details here.......and a full background description of Videoton, should they come up. However, considering it’s transfer deadline day, the message to readers could be "look it up for yourself you bunch of lazy so-and-sos".
LLL Prediction – Home win

Real Madrid (14th) v Granada (15th) – 19.50
Gah! Too much going on at the Santiago Bernabeu this week. So, here’s a Clipnotes version. Modric signing – expensive, but can’t do any harm, gives Xabi Alonso a bit of a rest. Super Copa game – Madrid won but should be worried about how they very nearly blew it against a bit of a hapless, 10-man Barcelona. Esteban Granero leaves – a very good idea for a very decent player. Could do better than QPR. Now if Ronaldo moves back to Manchester United on deadline day, then that really will be the end of LLL’s thin stranglehold on sanity.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Barcelona (1st) v Valencia (13th) – 21.30
The UEFA Player of the Season award on Thursday night has given sections of the  Barcelona press a handily-timed distraction from Wednesday’s unfortunate business at the Santiago Bernabeu. Not just because Andrés Iniesta won it – ahead of Leo Messi, quite remarkably – but because of Cristiano Ronaldo’s consequently disgruntled face, the kind of expression that LLL would probably have in the same situation.

“On Wednesday, the Barça players gave a lesson in manners and fair play after the defeat,” writes Joan Vehils in Sport. "A day later and Ronaldo shows that he doesn’t know how to lose. Once again, it’s a bad example for our society.” Not overreacting there at all.
LLL Prediction – Home win

MONDAY
Betis (9th) v Atlético Madrid (4th)
– postponed
So let’s get this straight. The time and date for the European Super Cup clash has been out for a while now. The time and date for international week have also been out for a while now. So why was it not until Thursday evening before the halfwits running Spain’s football product realised that Betis v Atlético Madrid on a Monday night wouldn't be a top idea?

Ed's note: In the Europa League draw, Atletico Madrid were paired with Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR), Viktoria Plzen (CZE) and Academica (POR). Athletic Bilbao got Lyon (FRA), Spara Prague (CZE) and Ironi Kiryat Shmoria (ISR, apparently). And Levante, to answer Tim's question, got Twente (NED), Hannover 96 (GER) and Helsingborg (SWE). Full, in-depth profiles of all those opponents coming up soon, eh, Tim?

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