La Liga 2012, Week 7 Preview and Fixtures: "When Madrid Plays Barcelona, The World Stops"

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno - Getty Images

"The world stops," says José Mourinho. Televisions all over the world will be following the action in Spain, as the two best teams in the world take the pitch for a game that could well decide the future of the Liga for this year. Real Madrid and Barcelona, arguably the greatest rivalry in sports, will dwarf the rest of the sporting world on Sunday.

It's clásico weekend in Spain, and everyone will take a break from throwing bricks through government buildings on Sunday to watch. The world is a hard place and this is a weighty, serious time; but at least for some Spaniards, and many people who love each team, this weekend will provide a wonderful little reprieve.

And then, for half of them, a crushing desperation.

And all we know is that on Sunday, October 7th, most of the sporting world will slow down, take a breath, and turn on the television.

I'd watch.

Friday, October 5

Celta vs. Sevilla

(21:50 CET, 3:50 PM EST)

It's a bit weird to schedule a game on a Friday--who watches TV on Friday nights? But hey, I'm not the LFP. Sevilla will either come out furiously after being robbed last weekend against Barcelona; or they'll come out depressed after being robbed last weekend by Barcelona. That's going to determine this game.

Pick: 2-3 to Sevilla.

Saturday, October 6

Rayo Vallecano vs. Deportivo

(16:00 CET, 10:00 AM EST)

So Rayo saw a lot of goals in their last game. Like 7. So, what are the odds that anything like that is going to happen again? I'd say low, but really, I have less than no idea.

Pick: 1-1.

Zaragoza vs. Getafe

(18:00 CET, 12:00 PM EST)

Wow, they're really front-loading their bad games this week. But something I underrate: when two bad teams play, exciting games can result.

Pick: 1-0 to Zaragoza.

Valladolid vs. Espanyol

(20:00 CET, 2:00 PM EST)

Now this is the first game I'm going to watch with certainty. Valladolid is a highly underrated squad that plays some exciting possession football, and Espanyol is still a fun team to watch. I'd bet on a good game.

Pick: 2-2.

Betis vs. Real Sociedad

(22:00 CET, 4:00 PM EST)

It does seem like they're saving their good games for Sunday--a day everyone will be watching anyways.

Pick: 0-3 to Barça.

Sunday, October 7

Levante vs. Valencia

(12:00 CET, 6:00 AM EST)

Good start: Levante and Valencia are both from Valencia, and their fans do not like each other that much. The teams really don't like each other that much, so I'd bet on some animosity today.

Pick: 1-2 to Valencia.

Mallorca vs. Granada

(16:00 CET, 10:00 AM EST)

Mallorca aren't the most fun team in Spain, but it's always exciting to watch them try desperately to beat the teams they should be dominating.

Pick: 2-1 to Valladolid.

Athletic Bilbao vs. Osasuna

(18:00 CET, 12:00 PM EST)

At what point do we start to recalibrate our expectations for Athletic? Were they really just a flash in the pan kind of side? Is Fernando Llorente just not as good as we thought? I'm asking myself all of these questions, and am not getting the answers I'd like.

Pick: 0-0.

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

(19:50 CET, 1:50 PM EST)

Yeah, don't watch this game. What a snooze-fest.

OK, fine. This is the definition of a game where everyone is telling you "this could be it" and you're saying to yourself, "well, it seems too early for that." But seriously: this could be it for Madrid. A loss here and they drop to 11 points. This is not a margin that can be made up easily, if at all, in this duopoly. Madrid need a win to get the Liga back on track; a draw lets them tread water; a loss is pretty much determinative.

Pick: 2-2.

Atlético Madrid vs. Málaga

(21:30 CET, 3:30 PM EST)

A great game, and a great game to put right after Barça-Madrid. I'm just going to keep watching all night--and I'd highly recommend you do too.

Pick: 3-2 to Atleti.

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