Match Previews

Big Weekend Preview: Messi’s malaise, a Valencia tiff and Moyes's Unpronounceables

Tim Stannard looks ahead to a very, very, very exciting weekend in La Liga... 

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LLL has tinglies. LLL is expecting big things of the weekend in La Primera. The blog cannot be entirely sure what will go down, but there is certainly a huge potential for some headline-grabbing antics.


An Eibar bus parked in front of their goal might thwart a rampant Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo. Leo Messi might break the all-time scoring record in La Liga before announcing his departure from Barcelona. And David Moyes could show how he has turned Real Sociedad around in a week-and-a-half with a thrashing of Deportivo. Come on La Liga. Don’t let us down.

How much will Real Madrid miss Luka Modric?

“Not at all” or “seriously, not at all”?

Such is the plumpness of the Real Madrid squad this season, that arguably ever player except penalty-taker extraordinaire Cristiano Ronaldo can drop out of action without too much kerfuffle. Indeed, Madrid actually have gotten better without Gareth Bale about. Keylor Navas can swoop in for Iker Casillas, Raphael Varane for Pepe and so on and so on.

In place of Modric (out for two to three months), Carlo Ancelotti can call upon Asier Illarramendi, Sami Khedira or even the versatile Isco. It would be a cliché to suggest that Eibar would love the kind of line-up choices like that. But Eibar really would love the kind of line-up choices like that.
Saturday 18.00 CET - Eibar vs Real Madrid

Modric will sit out for a while, but Ancelotti is hardly caught short

Will Messi turn up for Sevilla sizzler?


"This is the 20-year-old's first full season in a top flight, but the attacking midfielder doesn't look out of place."

Lee Roden on Sevilla's silky Barca loanee who slipped through Manchester City's net

LLL is not in the business of rational, level-headed analysis. Unless it comes to string theory. So it is going to jump on the “OMG Messi is unhappy!” bandwagon for want of anything better to do. Silly sensible heads will argue his comments to Olé that “I want to stay at Barcelona for the rest of my career, but you don’t always get want you want in life”, should be taken at face value. However, it is a heck a lot more fun to extrapolate on why Messi chose not to end his declaration at 'career'.

Was it a warning sign to Barcelona that he is not a happy bunny with the direction of the club? Was it a come-and-get-me call to the other big hitters of Europe? Or was it simply Forest Gump-style pondering on the chocolate box nature of life?
Saturday 20.00 CET - Barcelona vs Sevilla

Will David Moyes be able to pronounce any of his players' names?

Project David Moyes is going to plan. Huge training sessions lasting long past a Spaniard’s lunch break – and probably hacking through a second breakfast too – as well as barracks and commands in simplified English. There may be some problems, though. La Real’s Basque-sounding squad can be a little hard to pronounce. “RUN!” “STOP!” “MOVE!” “COME ON ZURUTT, ZURUTS... COME ON SONNY!” Moyes will be hoping that Asier Illarramendi doesn't return on loan, no doubt.
Saturday 22.00 CET  - Deportivo vs Real Sociedad

SEE ALSO Moy Bueno! FFT's Spanish phrasebook - made specifically for David Moyes

You won't be needing one of those in San Sebastian, Davie...

Will the Valencia derby be just as frosty on the pitch?

When football directors miss out on the opportunity for comfy seats and free booze then you know something serious has happened. Sunday’s Valencia derby, that sees the men of Mestalla heading to Levante, will only have the VIP area half full. A falling out over tickets is the cause of a rift between two clubs that have never been the best of friends in the first place. Valencia were expecting Levante to offer €15 tickets to visiting fans as part of a long-standing pact. Levante claim that there is no such pact and will be charging €30, which is not overly pricey.
Sunday 17.00 CET - Levante vs Valencia

Will Eibar’s paint job go to waste?

It feels like an annual village fair being prepared in Ye Olde England – zebra crossings being painted in Eibar’s club colours, plenty of bunting being put out, buns being baked, window frames getting a lick of paint and people-friendly streets around the stadium. The littlest club that could is getting ready for the visit of Real Madrid, ready to get thrashed into the next century.  

Eibar fans will be hoping that the game itself goes a little smoother than the process of buying tickets, though. A computer failure saw supporters having to endure a three-hour delay to get their Basque hands on entry to Saturday’s big game. In the end, 5,907 watchers will be squeezed into Ipurúa to see if the team can double the number of victories in their own ground to two. Forward Saúl Berjón is certainly talking a good game, claiming that Eibar can “cause problems for anyone”. LLL is not sure about that one.
Saturday 18.00 CET - Eibar vs Real Madrid

Eibar fans are ready for their biggest day

How long will Pedro León’s third-person phase last?

A footballer once mocked by José Mourinho, who pointed out that the midfielder was hardly Zidane, is back in the news again in Spain. To cut a very long story short, Pedro León had been dropped from the squad by Getafe to meet the confines of a salary cap. A judge has reversed the decision and allowed the footballer back in again, with an expectation that he will be able to take to the field against Villarreal.

The problem is that Pedro León has been engaged in a very public slanging match with Getafe president Angel Torres, who said that he would be quite happy if the player never pulled on the shirt of his club again. That may well happen, but that will not see the former Real Madrid man going anywhere until his contract runs out in 2016. “Pedro León isn’t going to be leaving Getafe, even if he is not playing,” announced the footballer, living in Big Booties Third Person Land.
Sunday 21.00 CET - Villarreal vs Getafe CET