Madrid authorities block march for Mourinho, Mallorca face unfortunate 'final''s Tim Stannard previews the weekend's action in La Liga


Granada (16th) v Betis (7th) - 21.00 CEST
The home side in this Andalusian derby have completely ground to a halt, with just two points trawled from the sea bed of la Primera from the past 18 available and not a single goal scored from open play in three games. Granada boss Lucas Alcaraz lamented that “at the moment we are not creating chances and the mistakes we are making are being punished severely.”
The news in Betis has surrounded a reported interest from Belgium in manager Pepe Mel, with Standard Liege looking to snap up a coach who has lead the Seville side into the top flight and possibly even into Europe, if all goes well. Yet Mel has been rumoured to be on the chopping block every time results have gone the wrong way, so he could be forgiven for considering the move. The Betis boss told local television: “I’ve got one more year on my contract and I’m normally faithful to what I sign. What’s more, I would never do anything that could harm Betis.”
LLL Prediction - Draw


Real Sociedad (4th) v Málaga (5th) - 16.00 CEST
While Málaga’s ongoing journey in the Champions League sees the chances increase of Manuel Pellegrini leaving for pastures new, the same situation should be occurring at Real Sociedad. The side lead by Philippe Montanier has now suffered just the single defeat in 19 and are in the Champions League positions, which should see quite a few clubs sniffing around the Frenchman. Indeed, Montanier might still be leaving San Sebastian, but potentially because the club don’t want the manager to stay.
During the week, la Real’s Sporting Director Lorenzo Juarros had his contract renewed, but was still cagey on whether the same would be happening with his underling. “Managers are always being offered to us,” revealed Juarros, “but over the past few weeks they’ve been calling less, seeing the league table. Possibly some understand that that now it’s difficult to compete with Montanier.”
LLL Prediction - Home win

Real Madrid (2nd) v Levante (10th) - 18.00 CEST
Bad news for about nine angry men on Saturday. The local council has refused permission for a pre-match pro-Mourinho march for a distance of about 400 metres to the stadium. The denial wasn’t made on the grounds that it was a particularly dumb idea, but due to the paperwork not being submitted in time. The only other story of note ahead of this clash was the possible reuniting of David Navarro, the forearm smasher of Levante, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a goal in the last league fixture between these two teams with just the single eye open, thanks to the other being closed by the aforementioned stopper. Sadly, Navarro is suspended for this particular tie, but hopefully Sergio Ballesteros is back for another famous running race with the Real Madrid forward....
LLL Prediction - Home win

Deportivo (20th) v Zaragoza (17th) - 20.00 CEST

Good King Wenceslas, this is a humdinger of a match. In the past two games, Deportivo have beaten relegation rivals in Celta Vigo and Mallorca and now they have another wriggling victim served up on the Riazor platter. “We are still last and it’s still going to be difficult,” warned Juan Carlos Valerón, reflecting on a few weeks that has given Deportivo the teeniest chance of staying up, with the Galician side four points from safety - and fourth-from-bottom Zaragoza. The home team are set to go for an all-or-nothing approach on Saturday, with the midfielder reporting that “the team is going for it, and is taking risks.” Considering Zaragoza are still without a win in 2013, that might just be enough.
LLL Prediction - Home win

Barcelona (1st) v Mallorca (19th) - 22.00 CEST
Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate said the visit of and subsequent defeat to Deportivo last week served as a little bit of a practice for Saturday’s late game, as apparently the Galicians “played a bit like Barça despite being bottom.” There’s a good chance Mallorca are going to end up in that exact same position by Sunday morning, with near-certain loss to the Catalan club in the Camp Nou, and a predicted victory for Deportivo. So perhaps not the best time for the Israeli net-tender to announce that Saturday’s game was “a final”. LLL advises it was the occasion perhaps for the other cliché of ‘our league is starting next week’ or ‘ this match is not our fight’.
LLL Prediction - Home win


Celta Vigo (18th) v Rayo Vallecano (9th) - 12.00 CEST
The contract renewal of managers is going to be a bit of a recurring theme over the coming weeks, so bear with LLL. This topic is the main talk of the town in Vallecas, with Rayo having picked up enough points to stay up without being overly interested in a European push, the blog suspects, although it would be a joy to see a club like Arsenal coming to the three-sided Vallecas stadium in the Europa League.
Speaking this week, Rayo president Raúl Martín insisted he was “very optimistic” that coach Paco Jémez would be staying on, although that issue is linked to the small matter of 14 footballers currently out of contract come June. “We are happy with his performance, but the sporting direction will decide who fits into the project,” advised the Rayo president.
LLL Prediction - Draw

Osasuna (15th) v Espanyol (12th) - 17.00 CEST
LLL was a little bit Monty Burns last weekend, when catching Espanyol’s clash with Real Sociedad. It leaned forward to ponder “who is this sprightly young thing, called  Sergio García.” Turns out it was the same one who has been as Espanyol for two-and-a-half seasons now, but without doing too much since the arrival of Javier Aguirre. García has had a bit of an image change - huge pony tail gone and natty beard developed - and claims that “I think that I’m playing at my best level, every day I feel better.”
LLL Prediction - Draw

Getafe (8th) v Atlético Madrid (3rd) - 19.00 CEST
There are many fascinating talking points in regards to Atlético Madrid’s world, including whether the side is running out of steam a little. On Monday, the local Atleti supporting bar owner announced with some pleasure that “the rest of the season will be a disaster,” but there’s only one issue that truly mattered in LLL’s very Rojiblanco barrio. Arda Turan’s magnificent LMAO-esque hair.
LLL Prediction - Away win

Valencia (6th) v Valladolid (14th) - 21.00 CEST
Valladolid were hopping mad about what they viewed as naughty approaches towards their winger, fullback type-thing Patrick Ebert. Keen LLL readers will remember a Marca exclusive from last week reporting a meeting over lunch between the German, who has a contract with Valladolid until 2014, and Atlético Madrid Sporting Director José Luis Caminero. What would have hurt the most, though, is that the Rojiblancos suit had two playing spells at Valladolid and was even the side’s Director of Football.
A formal communication was published on the Valladolid web site claiming two meetings between the pair, the first being on 21 February at the Vicente Calderón and the second on 27th March. No comment was made until Monday, apparently, “to give time to Atlético Madrid to apologise for the behaviour of their Sporting Director.” To date, no response has been made by the Rojiblancos to the affair.
LLL Prediction - Home win


Sevilla (11th) v Athletic Bilbao (13th) - 22.00 CEST
These two teams should walk onto the pitch with heads bowed at a ludicrously late time on Monday night, and sit on stools of shame for 90 minutes, rather than playing a game of football. Both former bigwigs outfits have had lamentable campaigns. Sevilla have had just the one away win in 15 and Marcelo Bielsa at Athletic is so mixed up that the Argentinean brought on Iker Muniain in last Monday’s match as a substitute, then brought the forward off again 15 minutes later. Former Sevilla boss, Míchel, has been talking about the lack of progress since his departure and Unai Emery’s arrival and noted that “you can’t strive to win the Tour, if you are stuck in the pelotón.”
LLL Prediction - Draw