La Preview: Sinking ships, aching goolies and Iker Casillas Avenue


Racing Santander (19th) v Zaragoza (20th) - 18.00 local time

La Liga returns from a Christmas slumber with a clash between the two biggest football boot-wearing disaster zones in la Primera. Racing are now being run by administrators due to no-one being entirely sure who owns and controls the club and huge amounts of pre-Christmas institutional in-fighting. The side itself is in the hands of three coaches whose supposedly temporary appointment was made permanent during the break when nobody was paying much attention. The trio, fronted by Juanjo Gonzalez, managed to lose 2-0 to third tier Mirandés in the Copa del Rey during the week.

Zaragoza have a new manager in Manolo Jiménez but have lost a key player in the wonderfully named Ponzio, who announced he was joining River Plate while sniffling like a big girl at a farewell press conference. “There are people who understand me and those who don’t. But honestly I’m not leaving the sinking ship,” claimed the sinking ship-leaving midfielder. 

LLL Prediction - Draw

Levante (4th) v Mallorca (14th) - 18.00

LLL was already aware of the genius of Mallorca manager Joaquín Caparrós, but it had no idea of its depth. It turns out that the madcap Andalusian is the Primera coach to have served the most  consecutive years in the division, with 11, and the most matches under his belt, with 390. The secret of this success, claims a modest Caparrós is Google and gadgety things. “He who doesn’t adapt to new times is dead. You have to innovate, learn and be creative. Before, you had run for miles to get information, today you have everything on the internet.”

LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Sociedad (15th) v Osasuna (5th) - 18.00

The Osasuna collective wasn’t happy at all at the appearance of Leo Messi during Wednesday’s 4-0 cup defeat and not just because the Argentinean scored two goals. Like everybody else, the club had been lead to believe the forward would be missing the match with the flu, but instead Messi came on in the second half to contribute to Osasuna’s eventual demise. “If Messi’s stomach was aching then my goolies ached too,” scoffed an unhappy Osasuna club president, Patxi Izco.

LLL Prediction - Draw

Real Madrid (1st) v Granada (13th) - 20.00

On Thursday, Iker Casillas attended the opening of his own street in his home town of Móstoles, to the south of Madrid. As well as being probed about being the oddness of Iker Casillas walking along “Iker Casillas Avenue”, the goalkeeper was asked for his opinion on José Mourinho’s rant about his players traveling too much over Christmas and enjoying the holiday festivities a bit too enthusiastically. Unsurprisingly, for a footballer who advertises beer, the club captain was a fan of the latter. “(Holidays) are for disconnecting, for being with family, for spending time doing other things and not thinking about football.” 

LLL Prediction - Home win

Málaga (7th) v Atlético Madrid (10th) - 22.00

In the end, José Antonio Reyes slipped quietly into the night to return to Sevilla which is very much against the grain at the club with memories of the long drawn-out departures of Kun Agüero and Diego Forlán still fresh. Although there is a bit of paperwork to be done at time of writing - sorting out the reported €1.5 million the club owes the whining winger for one - the €3.5 million deal is done and dusted. How to replace Reyes is now the challenge for new boss Diego Simeone, who made the worrying admission this week that “I spend 24 hours a day thinking about Atlético Madrid,” which really can’t be healthy. 

LLL Prediction - Away win


Rayo Vallecano (16th) v Sevilla (6th) - 12.00

In the final dispatches of 2011, LLL reported that Sevilla president José María Del Nido had been found guilty of fraud during his time as a lawyer working in the sleaze pit of Marbella and was to be sent to the slammer. However, due to a lengthy appeal process Del Nido won’t be going to prison just yet. But this does not mean that his life will be completely footloose and fancy free as the Sevilla big wig has to visit a judge on Monday to see what constraints he may suffer, including the possibility of having his passport taken away. 

LLL Prediction - Away win 

Getafe (12th) v Athletic Bilbao (9th) - 16.00

LLL will be dropping in on this particular game after a Sunday morning session in Vallecas and may well be watching a visiting side lead by the next Barcelona manager. With Pep Guardiola yet to confirm his career intentions (a 2013 departure is a good bet) the paper talk is that one of his mentors, Marcelo Bielsa, could be the successor. “Bielsa has the capacity to be manager of Barcelona, there’s no doubt,” confirmed the current Barça boss. 

LLL Prediction - Away win

Villarreal (17th) v Valencia (3rd) - 18.00

A local derby against a side fresh from a 1-0 win over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey is not exactly an easy start for new and very temporary Villarreal boss José Francisco Molina, who has taken over from the fired Juan Carlos Garrido. But that doesn’t mean the new manager sucking up sessions have not begun, with the disappointing centre-back Cristian Zapata getting his work in early. “Molina is very demanding, he wants is to work hard on pressuring and not giving the opposition any breathing space.”

LLL Prediction - Away win 

Betis (11th) v Sporting (18th) - 19.45

LLL suspects 2012 might be a bad one for Sporting, who are going to find it tough going in their relegation battle, which could ultimately be doomed. Still, Manolo Preciado is staying positive even if the blog isn’t saying that his club’s situation “is not dramatic” but difficult instead. 

LLL Prediction - Home win

Espanyol (8th) v Barcelona (2nd)

 - 21.30
AS have been driving home their “Villarato” nonsense again - the campaign that suggests the Spanish FA is in the pocket of Barcelona - by using an attempt by Pep’s Dream Boys to have the first tie of the club’s cup clash with Osasuna switched to Pamplona to allow time to have the pitch changed at the Camp Nou. This request was denied leading AS editor, Alfredo Relaño, to claim that “they’ve over abused the influence they’ve invested in,” at the FA. 

LLL Prediction - Away win