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La Preview: Florentino flirts with Falcao as Betis boss gets a battering


Getafe (7th) v Osasuna (16th) â 16.00 (all kick-offs local Spanish time)
Another tough gig for GetafeâÂÂs marketing bod will be trying to get the crowds packed into the Coliseum at the beginning of 2013 for the sideâÂÂs last 16, second-leg Copa del Rey clash against Atlético Madrid. Getafe contrived to lose 3-0 at the Vicente Calderón on Wednesday, with forlorn midfielder Juan Rodríguez admitting that âÂÂeveryone is angry at the result.âÂÂ
Still, the job of tempting fans into the ground was made a tad easier this week with news that the clubâÂÂs season ticket holder numbers had grown by 800 to 6,500, with passes to the second half of the campaign costing just â¬80 for existing members. Which sounds an excellent deal, quite frankly.
LLL Prediction â Home win

Mallorca (17th) v Athletic Bilbao (14th) â 18.00
With Athletic out in the previous round of the Copa del Rey and Mallorca pretty much out in the current one after WednesdayâÂÂs awful 5-0 home defeat to Sevilla, it'll be a fairly sombre affair on Saturday in the Balearics for what could become the final match for Joaquín Caparrós â against the last Spanish team âÂÂJokinâ managed.
The coaches' reaction to their respective mid-week setbacks ranged from the predictable with Marcelo Bielsa admitting that the knock-out to lower league Eibar was âÂÂunjustifiableâ to the wonderfully barking mad with Caparrós insisting that, âÂÂif you knock me down seven times, IâÂÂll get up eight times, and if you knock me down eight times, IâÂÂll get up nine times, youâÂÂre going to have to kill me.âÂÂ
LLL Prediction â Home win

Granada (18th) v Real Sociedad (9th) â 20.00
ItâÂÂs been 377 minutes since Granada scored a league goal, but that hasnâÂÂt prevented the club from pleading with fans to come to the stadium for SaturdayâÂÂs game to watch their players spending 90 minutes shooting high and wide. A video on the clubâÂÂs website implores locals to the game, perhaps to watch the sacking of Granada boss Juan Antonio Anquela if the result isnâÂÂt a good one.
LLL Prediction â Away win

Sevilla (11th) v Málaga (4th) â 22.00
Michel the Manager bought himself a little bit more credit after a torrid time in la Liga with the 5-0 thrashing of Mallorca on Wednesday night, revealing the âÂÂhidden faceâ of the team âÂÂthat sometimes appears.â Nevertheless, Michel had been backed quite forcibly even before the game by José María del Nido: âÂÂWe question the results but absolutely not the coach. He has the absolute confidence of the board and the sporting leadership,â parped the president. MálagaâÂÂs own first round last 16 clash will take place next Tuesday against Eibar.
LLL Prediction â Home win


Zaragoza (12th) v Levante (6th) â 12.00
Hello again! These two teams are having some kind of footballing âÂÂcome dine with meâ experience this week. On Thursday, Zaragoza travelled to LevanteâÂÂs house in the Copa del Rey and had a fine time all round with a 1-0 win. âÂÂWeâÂÂve done half the job against a great team,â said happy Zaragoza gaffer Manolo Jiménez. ItâÂÂs ZaragozaâÂÂs turn to host Levante on Sunday and come up with something tasty for their visitors, who will be returning in January for the second leg of the cup game.
LLL Prediction â Draw

Valencia (10th) v Rayo Vallecano (13th) â 17.00
Empty stands are not a rare sight in la Liga these days, with Marca reporting that only two matches â the Madrid derby and El Clásico â have sold out this season. An empty end at Rayo was a tad unusual on Monday though, as it was the home of the Bukaneros, the clubâÂÂs wonderfully fanatical Ultras.
However, the supporters had decided to leave that end vacant during the Zaragoza clash as a protest at the kick-off time, the fifth that Rayo had suffered on that day this season. âÂÂPeople who do this are harming us. They think we are idiots,â fumed Rayo manager Paco Jémez. âÂÂThese Monday nights are killing us, we need people behind us.âÂÂ
LLL Prediction â Home win

Real Madrid (3rd) v Espanyol (19th) â 19.00
José Mourinho reappeared on Wednesday night after seven days of Karanka-world and the grumble after the defeat at Celta Vigo focused on one particular player. Discussing the decision to leave Alvaro Morata out of the matchday squad, the Portuguese pointed out that the young forward âÂÂhad more ambition than one player who didnâÂÂt want to play this match, in the cold and rain.âÂÂ
Normally, Karim Benzema is the footballer who feels MourinhoâÂÂs wrath when effort is lacking â but this time the focus is on Angel di María who was hauled off at half-time, a move that has FridayâÂÂs AS fretting about the footballerâÂÂs form.
LLL Prediction â Home win

Barcelona (1st) v Atlético Madrid (2nd) â 21.00
It was fun and japes at the 2012 AS awards this week, with Florentino Pérez in attendance and enthusiastically greeting Falcao after the striker's five-goal performance against Deportivo. The Madrid president joked during din-dins that he needed a serviette, referring to the secretive method that saw Zidane signed. Cheerless Diego Simeone killed all the fun though when asked about the incident by stating simply that âÂÂI didnâÂÂt see it.â Boo.
LLL Prediction â Home win


Deportivo (20th) v Valladolid (8th) â 20.00
In many ways, it makes perfect sense. Pretty much everyone in Spain is complaining about Monday night football on the grounds that fans would prefer to watch their matches during times when they are not rushing from work, looking after children or supposedly going to sleep.
The response from the TV companies and Spanish League has been to take heed of such moans, and punish them by sticking two matches on Monday night. Anyway, this game could see the end of the reign of José Luis Oltra if bottom-of-the-table Deportivo donâÂÂt dispose of Valladolid. âÂÂItâÂÂs a final,â admits Depor keeper Daniel Aranzubia.
LLL Prediction â Home win

Celta Vigo (15th) v Betis (5th) â 21.30
Ouch. Jonathan Pereira wasnâÂÂt very pleasant to Betis boss Pepe Mel after being loaned out to Villarreal this week, in what the player feels is a scapegoating after the 5-0 defeat to Sevilla. âÂÂHe decided to sell me as the bad guy to win applause, as from that moment, everything was difficult for him. I wasnâÂÂt expecting nor looking for a way out but as I said heâÂÂs the manager, heâÂÂs the one who wants to be the big boss rather than support his players.âÂÂ
LLL Prediction â Draw