The Sticky Weekend Preview - Round 26

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Atlético Madrid (4th) v Barcelona (2nd)

The sand has been spread, the net erected and Ronaldinho has squeezed himself into his favourite thong – let's be grateful Maniche is in Italy. Yes, it's time for the festival of beach volleyball that is Atleti v Barça.

Well, that's how AS are bigging up the battle in Friday's edition, as they grumble over Barcelona's newfound fondness for using sleight of hand to win games, citing Messi v Espanyol, Henry v Zaragoza and now Eto'o v Valencia, as damning evidence.

On Saturday night, the conniving culé's meet their match when they take on Atlético Madrid's Kun - the glove - Agüero, who has taken part in more ferocious fistings than..(cut). Draw.

Recreativo (17th) v Real Madrid (1st)

'Mmm', mused AS's editorial board. Flagship club not exactly firing on all cylinders. Public very underwhelmed about a Russian striker possibly arriving in the summer. It's time to brew up a Katrina-sized storm in a teeny-tiny teacup.

And the cyclone of controversy arrived with the publication of a photo taken at Atlético Madrid president Enrique Cerezo's 60th birthday party. And it didn't involve a stripper, a mule and some shaving cream, either.

One of the gifts brought to him by Ramón Calderón, also present at the shindig, was a Real Madrid shirt with Cerezo's name on the back. Another guest, FEF president Angel María Villar also got a shirt, so as not to feel left out.

Cerezo posed for the cameras holding the offending evidence up, whilst Villar opted for wearing it. Oh dear.

A whole heap of fairly unjustified flack flew Enrique's way. "It was a birthday present and I wasn't going to throw it back in his face", said the Atlético big cheese, not unreasonably.

But that was nothing compared to the overwhelming press assault on Villar. "It's pathetic. A federation president must not wear the shirt of any team, especially if it is one from La Liga", fumed an aggravated, perhaps not getting any, Albert Masnou in Sport.

Days later, the FEF approved a friendly match between Catalunya v Argentina, Calderón posed with an Atlético shirt and the rojiblanco's issued a seven-point statement on the whole tedious issue. Away win.

Deportivo (18th) v Sevilla (5th)

With three cracking games, including this one, to entertain the punters both in Spain and around the world, there was only one way to market the footballing fest - play all the matches at the same time.

That's the approach the witless numbskulls who run Spanish football have gone for in their never ending battle to stitch each other up - and fans - like a kipper.

Between them, the TV companies, the league and federation have managed to take a weekend of potentially brilliant, breathless action and p*ss the whole thing up the wall. Away win.

Espanyol (6th) v Valencia (9th)

The expected share buy-out of the Bautista Soler clan by Vicente Soriano and Co did not take place as widely expected by the Spanish press. The former VP reportedly pulled out of the deal complaining of the confusing messages coming from the selling camp.

To confirm that relations between the two feuding foes are still a little fractious, Bautista Soler pushed the whole sticks and stones theory to the limit by accusing Soriano of being "a liar", "a disgrace", and "a fiasco of a person". Miaow.

Meanwhile, Soriano's middleman, Juan Villalonga, denied that there were ever any plans to buy out Soler. Instead, the meeting that took place was to discuss "modernising the management of the club and incorporating best international practices". Draw.


Playing Sunday

Levante (20th) v Zaragoza (15th)

Whilst there continues to be some doubt as to who actually owns and runs Levante these days, there is no more confusion as to the future of coach, Gianni di Biasi. At least for the moment.

The Italian stallion had been linked with a move to Parma, at the beginning of the week, although di Biasi says it was all headline-grabbing hogwash.

"It was wrong to say that I'm going to be the Parma coach. I'm here till the end of the season... and I don't have the energy to take on a new challenge."

The fact that he would also have had to kiss goodbye to the money owed to him by Levante may well have been a factor on his decision to stay to the summer. Away win.

Valladolid (11th) v Racing Santander (7th)

And it's thanks to for this week's somewhat unsavoury News from Sweden.

"A 36-year-old man has been indicted for satisfying himself on the seats of women’s bicycles. The man was charged for sexual molestation and damages after police found traces of his semen on the saddle of a woman's bike," according to the Östersunds-Posten newspaper.

The man was first reported in the spring of 2006 when police found sperm during an investigation involving a slashed bicycle tyre.

The breakthrough in the case came after a woman reported seeing the man carry away her bicycle and then start rubbing up against it. The man was arrested last July and taken into custody.

The 36-year-old man has confessed to the crimes, explaining that he felt an overwhelming calm wash over him when he approached women’s bicycles and smelled the handlebars." Home win.

Betis (16th) v Murcia (19th)

La Liga Loca gasped in amazement at the news, on Thursday, of a club president who appearing to be operating with all his management marbles in place.

Murcia's Jesus Samper returned from a trip to South America to confirm that he would not be sacking under-fire coach, Lucas Alcaraz, as had been widely expected.

"Lucas will continue. We're in a tough situation, but it's not a problem with the coach, but with the attitude of the players", stormed Samper. Draw.

Getafe (10th) v Mallorca (12th)

And so the miracle of Getafe continues. Victorious over Real Madrid, UEFA cup Goliaths and now just the smallest of steps from another Copa del Rey final, after Thursday's 3-1 semi-final first leg win over Racing Santander.

It's just a shame that none of their fans are bothering to watch them. Although ticket prices are a little steep, according to supporters groups, the Getafe faithful is staying away from another cracking campaign in their droves. Out of the 12,000 who went to the Coliseum to see the cup win, 4,000 were from Racing Santander. Home win.

Villarreal (3rd) v Osasuna (13th)

La Liga Loca's got nothing on this one. There's nothing to see here. Move along, now, move along. Home win.

Almería (8th) v Athletic Bilbao (14th)

A debut for a youngster in a first-team friendly is rarely big news. But it was in Bilbao when Athletic fielded 14-year-old Jonás Ramalho – a defender who just so happens to be the club's first black player, something Marca noted in Thursday's edition.

The coverage has upset Athletic who issued a statement, in response, advising that they did not appreciate articles focusing on their cantera players concerning the "colour of their skin or religious and political beliefs".

Marca also got themselves into a bit of a tizz - as well as some within the club, reportedly - in regards to another player in their youth team who was born in Barcelona but has a mother who lived for couple of years in the Basque Country - thus stretching their no outsiders policy to the limit. Home win.

If it's raining or you have not been paid yet, you can kill some time by catching Tim Stannard on Real Madrid TV's La Liga preview show, The Match on Skychannel 446 - repeated over Friday night and Saturday.