Spanish La Liga 2011, Week 8 Preview And Fixtures: Barcelona Vs Sevilla Headlines Exciting Weekend

Even in a week full of awesome matchups, it's still depressing to think that the LFP decided to run Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad back-to-back on Sunday morning. But hey, what better way to attract customers in Asia than running those two teams. Again.

Every so often, leagues will have weeks flush with interesting match-ups, exciting plot lines--weeks that basically write their own preview, so to speak. These weeks remind us why we like soccer generally, not just our individual teams. Sure, other weeks will have drama, goals, and the like, but we tend to find it hard to get up for Osasuna vs. Mallorca. But FC Barcelona vs Sevilla, Málaga vs Real Madrid, and Valencia vs Athletic Bilbao? Yes please. 

Saturday, October 22

Sporting Gijón vs. Granada 

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

It's funny that after all that preamble, this is the first game to pop up. Oh, well. 

Pick: 2-1 to Sporting, and that might prove very important in the inevitable relegation battle.

Racing Santander vs. Espanyol

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Racing has been way worse than advertised this year; Espanyol has been more or less what we expected. This is a clash of perennial middle of the table, not going anywhere teams: I'd like to take Espanyol by a hair, but only because I like their shirts more. (In all seriousness, they've shown an ability to win on the road, and well, Racing really, really suck).

Pick: 0-1 to Espanyol. Like last week's Valencia game, I wouldn't put any money on this one.

Málaga vs. Real Madrid

20:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

A team that can't defend against one of the most potent offenses of all time. Proooobably doesn't need any more explaining, though I'd watch carefully to see how Ruud van Nistelrooy reacts if he scores a goal--he says he won't celebrate, but...we'll see. Oh, and Julio Baptista has been ruled out, so, I dunno, don't bet on a ridiculous bicycle kick goal?

Pick: 1-3 to Madrid. 

FC Barcelona vs. Sevilla

22:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

I'm trying to decide whether the more talked about narrative coming into this game will be Sevilla's decision to wear "Proud of Andalucía" on their shirts, or Cesc Fábregas' return to the pitch after a nagging injury. I'm gonna go with the shirts (-300), but I'm really not sure about it.

Pick: 4-2 to Barça, but doggone it, those Sevillanos are proud of their heritage.

Sunday, October 23

Real Betis vs. Rayo Vallecano

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

The LFP went through all this trouble to move the schedule up to noon on Sundays so they could...a) grow the brand internationally, b) showcase their best matchups to the Asian markets or c) show Rayo Vallecano matches on consecutive weeks (because what's going to get people in Asia hooked better than Rayo)? Yes! The correct answer is C!

Pick: 1-1. Betis hasn't even begun to drop to where they should be in the table.

Real Sociedad vs. Getafe

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

I just don't get it. Why broadcast Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad back to back on back to back weekends? Someone with some sense please explain this to me. Anyways, I like both of these teams in that they're spunky and sorta fun, so let's see where this goes. Plus, Pedro León's emergence on Getafe put the proverbial icing on my "top-tier castoffs are so good that they're stars on other teams" theory.

Pick: 2-1 to la Real, mainly because Anoeta is a cool stadium.

Atlético Madrid vs. Mallorca

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Radamel Falcao is injured. Mallorca is known for strong, defensive play. The match is in the Vicente Calderón. This has all the ingredients of a classic 0-0.

Pick: 0-0, what I wouldn't trick you again.

Osasuna vs. Zaragoza

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

No, thanks.

Pick: 1-0 to Osasuna.

Valencia vs. Athletic Bilbao

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

Inevitably, whenever I pick matches to be high-scoring gun-slinging affairs, they end up as relatively uneventful 1-0 or 1-1 affairs. So, this game, despite featuring some of my favorite players (Fernando Llorente, Roberto Soldado, Éver Banega) and coaches (Marcelo Bielsa) in the world, will not be a high-scoring shootout for the ages. Wink wink.

Pick: "1-0" to Valencia, if you know what I mean.  

Villarreal vs. Levante

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

Is anyone still buying Levante as a first-place team? I mean, I know it only started like two weeks ago, but seriously? Fluuuuuke. But hey, I'm not sure that Villarreal is the team to bust it up for them, what with the fact that Villarreal is genuinely terrible this season (sorry to our awesome crew over at VillarrealUSA.com, SBNation's Villarreal blog).

Pick: 0-0. But hey, I've been wrong about Levante before...

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