La Preview: Soldado’s succour, Negredo’s naughtiness and Espanyol’s ennui

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Málaga (3rd) v Levante (11th) – 16.00 (local time)
After a summer of radio silence from Málaga’s owners and mere confusion from Manuel Pellegrini and the players, the club’s executive vice-president Moayad Shatat spoke to the media last week in a chat that was a little bit vague about Málaga's general direction.

Perhaps the main zingers from the session were “we want to invest, but correctly” and “the club is not for sale”. But it was some of the other answers that were more intriguing – or perhaps it was the questions: “Did you find financial irregularities?" "It's difficult to explain” and “Has someone been stealing from the club? "I didn’t find any evidence.” LLL's spidey-senses feel that this Málaga mystery may run for a little bit longer.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Valencia (17th) v Celta Vigo (13th) – 18.00
Patience makes the heart grow fonder apparently. Justice is its own reward. She that laughs first laughs loudest. That’s the info from Roberto Soldado’s midweek success from the Spanish squad. The Valencia man could have fallen into a great big sulk having been left out of the Euro 2012 team for Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres – to be fair, the Valencia man would barely have played a minute – but Soldado came running back to the team with tail wagging and scored the winning goal in Spain’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying win against Georgia.

However, the first thing the striker wanted to do on his return to Spain was to take his children to school, after just a couple of hours' sleep. “I was 10 days away from home without seeing them and this is the most important thing for me. The best part was hugging my children.” Awwwww.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Getafe (10th) v Barcelona (1st) – 20.00
Football! Politics! Cataluyna! Run away! Well, no... shan’t. In response to a massive demonstration in Barcelona calling for Independence For Catalunya and Down With This Sort Of Thing, it’s only natural that FCB became involved – Sandro Rosell attended the rally and Pep Guardiola sent a video message supporting the cause – although the ‘club’ is no longer as strident on this topic without Joan Laporta, who of course never used Barcelona for own political career, oh no.

The response over in Capital City of ‘well, if you hate Spain so much why do you want to play for them, etc’. Indeed, a poll published in AS on Friday sees 85% of those bothering to vote feeling that if Catalunya became independent then Barça should leave la Liga. LLL would like to see the poll results after those voting are told what that would mean to TV money and Real Madrid’s ability to pay Cristiano Ronaldo’s salary.
LLL Prediction – Away win

Sevilla (7th) v Real Madrid (9th) – 22.00
Intriguing stuff from Alvaro Negredo during the international break, with a bit of spare time after missing out on the Spain squad. The forward was poking around why Sevilla were so bloomin' poor last season, failing to finish in the European places when even Levante managed it. According to Negredo, not everyone was giving 120% last year and rowing in the same direction.

“It was a very indisciplined dressing room,” revealed the striker, strikingly. “Not indisciplined due to bad people or anything like that, but stuff which meant that the team didn’t do well in the end. We didn’t get to training on time, someone would come late... these were things that took their toll on the group.” Negredo also said that the arrival of Míchel the manager midway through the campaign didn’t make a difference, either. “He got angry quite a lot, but nothing changed.s”
LLL Prediction – Draw 

Espanyol (19th) v Athletic Bilbao (15th) – 12.00

Not exactly an enjoyable international break in Cornella, with Espanyol in the table-bottom badlands after three defeats. To express a certain level of dissatisfaction with this sorry situation, a vocal group of 30 fans went along to a training session, where they didn’t exactly give their support to the struggling players. “The same thing happened to me at Atlético,” noted Joan Capdevila, “but it was after round 15, not round three.”

Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino admitted that he feels the supporters’ pain and that he had noticed “more than just unhappiness, there’s also a certain fatigue,” in the Perico peeps. “At the moment, there’s nothing that generates something positive.”
LLL Prediction – Home win

Granada (18th) v Deportivo (6th) – 16.00
Two goals in three matches can be considered Messi-prolific form for Riki, who scored just three in 19 league games last time Depor were in la Primera. And two in 29 with Getafe in 2004-05. So it’s no wonder that the Deportivo Destroyer is in buoyant mood, declaring that “I feel better at 32 then when I was 26.” LLL would suggest this isn't too much of a boast, considering at that age Riki managed five goals in 32 matches.
LLL Prediction – Draw

Osasuna (20th) v Mallorca (2nd) – 18.00
Poor Osasuna can’t seem to get a break these days. Bottom of the table with no points, fairly skint after losing sponsorship from the local government and now the news that the club are going to have to fight tooth and nail to get any money due to them from the sale of Javi Martínez to Bayern Munich. FIFA regulations state that Osasuna are due €800k from the deal for the midfielder, who began his career in Pamplona, but Bayern Munich are quite clear that they aren’t going to stump up the cash. “Nothing to do with Bayern, it’s Athletic who have to pay,” said Munich president Uli Hoeness.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Real Sociedad (16th) v Zaragoza (14th) – 19.50
Considering Zaragoza's coach said the club would like to looking towards youth for the future, it was quite strange to sign 37-year-old freebie José Movilla, who left Rayo Vallecano over the summer. Nevertheless, the veteran midfielder – who is at the club for a second spell after leaving in the late 1920s – has still got the moves, from what LLL saw in Vallecas last season. “I was the footballer who played most games at Rayo last season [38] and few players have managed that,” was the reminder from Movilla at his presentation.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Atlético Madrid (8th) v Rayo Vallecano (4th) – 21.30
Mere coincidence? Atlético Madrid formally commemorate the death of former owner and president (and despicable human being) Jesús Gil – and celebrate of 25 years of the Gil family at the club; on the same day, UEFA announce that prize money due to Atlético – estimated to be worth around €11.5m – will be held back due to Rojiblanco-owned debt under the Financial Fair Play initiative, which punishes clubs that owe money to other clubs, its employees or tax authorities.
LLL Prediction – Home win

Valladolid (5th) v Betis (12th) – 21.30

Quite rightly, Betis are still hopping mad about having their round three match against Atlético Madrid postponed just three days before it was due to take place, with the league authorities belatedly noticing a scheduling clash with the European Super Cup and the internationals.

“We wanted to play the game, but if the LFP do this club a 'favour' then there’s not much more we can do,” fumed Juan Antonio Dorado, whose team’s last match was decades ago on the 25th August. 
LLL Prediction – Away win