Hay Liga!!! Real Madrid have seen their seemingly insurmountable lead of 10 points over their arch-nemesis, Barcelona, dwindle to a wee 4 points, with a Clásico at the Camp Nou coming next weekend. The remaining Champions League spots remain in play with Valencia, Málaga, Levante and Osasuna fighting for the 3rd and 4th places. Still lots of excitement and many things to play for.
Let’s kick this Quiniela off. Remember, its ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw, and ‘2’ for an away win.
1. Athletic (8th) – Mallora (12th): 1
Home victory for the Bilbaínos this weekend. Things are really convoluted in the middle of the pack with Osasuna 6th on 45 points only 7 points ahead of Real Sociedad at 15th on 38 points. Mallorca is safe from relegation this season and a mid-table finish will probably suit them just fine. Athletic, on the other hand, need to stay sharp as they still have some silverware to play for in the Europa League and the Copa del Rey.
2. Zaragoza (18th) – Granada (16th): 1
Zaragoza must win to stay in La Liga. No victory and their season is most likely over. A desperate home team for the win here.
3. Getafe (11th) – Sevilla (7th): 2
Michel, Sevilla’s skipper, began his coaching career at Getafe and returns having Sevilla doing plenty of the right things. It has been a good second half of the season for las sevillistas and I think Michel gets a win at his former club.
4. Levante (5th) – Barcelona (2nd): 1
After 10 consecutive wins in La Liga, Barcelona has drawn within four points of leaders Real Madrid. Barcelona is doing its best Anton Chigurh impersonation and seems to be intent on tracking Madrid down and killing them at a seedy motel, or something like that….
Anywho, Barcelona looks great, annoyingly great. And impressive as Levante has been to stay so high in the table this season, Barcelona must win to keep the pressure on heading into the Camp Nou showdown with Madrid next weekend.
5. Real Madrid (1st) – Sporting (18th): 1
Real Madrid had better win this one! Expect more right legged missiles from Christiano Ronaldo like these. It would be disastrous for Madrid to head into next week’s Clásico with the possibility of Barcelona taking the pole position in La Liga. Madrid simply needs to keep that 4 point window open and needs to win this weekend at home against a lesser team.
6. Rayo (13th) – Atlético (9th): 2
El ‘Efecto Simeone?’ Well, maybe not so much. Atlético’s 3 points out of their last six matches is definitely mediocre. Nevertheless, I’ll take them to win it here.
7. Espanyol (10th) – Valencia (3rd): 2
Graham Hunter wrote a great piece earlier this week over at espn.com/soccer detailing how the fact that Valencia is still playing wonderful football when it probably should have declared bankruptcy and collapsed is a marvel to behold. I see Valencia finishing in the top four, an awesome feat considering everything the club has gone through in recent years.
8. Betis (14th) – Osasuna (6th): 1
Betis have been undefeated in their last five matches and I see them continuing the trend here with a home win.
9. Málaga (4th) – Real Sociedad (15th): 1
Málaga for the home win, I guess. On paper, Málaga is the richer, better team, but you just never know with Real Sociedad….
10. Villarreal (17th) – Racing de Santander (20th): 1
Villarreal should win here and they will stay afloat and play top flight football next season (fingers crossed). In some unfortunate news, New Jersey native Giuseppe Rossi, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Real Madrid on October 26, 2011 and had recently returned to the side, re-tore his ACL today in a training session and needs another operation. Rossi, who had hoped to play with the Italian national side in the European Championships this summer will need to miss the Euros and most likely the start of next season. Good luck on the recovery Giuseppe!
By: Ryan Moore