La Preview: El Clásico (er, and nine other games...)
To be honest, LLL has absolutely no idea who will win the Clásico. A 2-2 draw to keep things frosty and fun for the rest of the season, but that also gives the watching punters something to get excited about, is the blog's bold prediction.
Clásicos tend to be games out of time and form. Heck, a few years ago at the Camp Nou under Juande Ramos, even Royston Drenthe nearly stopped Barcelona in their tracks, so Ronaldo & Co. are more than capable of getting something from the Catalan capital.
Barcelona’s big hope is to keep on keeping on against Real Madrid, with Ivan Rakitic finally being able to wear the big trousers in the playmaking department. For Real Madrid, the main hopes lie with a bonding seafood meal for the squad, a snarling Sergio Ramos and Pepe and, as Marca writes on Friday, trying to play a bit like they did against Bayern Munich last April in a 4-0 win on German soil.
The one prediction that LLL will be completely spot on about is that pretty much everyone else will be ignored in Spain to make way for the game. However, the blog is going to gather everyone else into a huddle and give a rousing team talk on what else is at stake this weekend...
Will Elche boss ever be Valencia hero?
La Liga has certainly got its act together to save Friday nights. After inflicting games involving Levante and Almería on the poor, unsuspecting Spanish public, Valencia now seem to be the team en vogue. The Mestalla men were on the gogglebox last week at home to Deportivo, and now travel to Elche to face a former old boy.
Elche boss Fran Escribá was a Valencia youth team player who never made it to the bright lights. He also coached in the club’s youth ranks, forming a partnership with Quique Sánchez Flores that took him to Getafe, back to Valencia, to Benfica and then finally Atlético Madrid, before becoming the first-team coach in his own right at Elche in 2012.
In an interview with Marca, Escribá admitted that managing his home-town club was his dream. Sadly, it may be an unfulfilled wish due to the club's longstanding fondness for outsiders. “I’m from Valencia, and that’s one of the reasons that I will never coach Valencia,” sighed poor Fran.
Can Atlético get better luck against Getafe?
Not the best of weeks for Getafe. Monday brought a home defeat to Real Sociedad after a late own goal. Then there were the stories about match-fixing. On top of that, the club president announced that he was going to be chasing €2 million from Quique Sánchez Flores, the manager who walked out on the club just three weeks ago. A clause in Quique’s remaining contract, apparently.
Former ‘B’ team coach Pablo Franco will be in charge for the remaining matches - the first being against Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderón, where Getafe lost 7-0 last season. At least for the Coliseum club, three of the scorers – Adrían, Diego Costa and David Villa – aren’t there to give them the heebie-jeebies.
Can Moyes lead Europe charge for La Real?
There is about a 4% chance of this happening, but if a three-way eclipse of football planetary objects takes place, Real Sociedad could be back in Europe a little sooner than expected. The first bit of work would have to be done by La Real themselves in finishing eighth, a position currently two points and two places away.
Barcelona would then have to win the Copa del Rey. That would free up a Europa League spot (assuming the Catalans either finish in the top four, as they have for 25 of the last 26 seasons, or win the Champions League). Then Sevilla need to win the Europa League, thus gaining access to the Champions League to free up another Europa slot, presuming the southern side stay in the top six. Got that? LLL isn't sure it has.
Will Sevilla overstay welcome against Villarreal?
Well, this is going to be a bit awkward. Sevilla have behaved rather badly against the lovely Villarreal on two recent occasions, sending the Yellow Submarine packing from the Europa League after two defeats. And Sevilla are back knocking at the door, armed with a 28-pack of beer as a peace offering, but still hoping to use the Madrigal to lay waste to more Villarreal dreams. It’s time for the home side to fight back and stop being the rowdy Andalusian' butt-monkeys.
Will Rayo players keep up orange protest against Málaga?
Seriously, what’s there not to love about Rayo Vallecano? Reason number 56,345 is the players choosing to wear orange boot laces to match the orange bibs and even jump suits worn by members of the Bukaneros. The Ultras feel that they have been unfairly picked on by police after having politically-themed banners confiscated by The Man. They're quite right to feel that way, says LLL. Viva Rayo!