La Liga 2011, Week 16 Preview And Fixtures: Real Madrid Hoping To Regain Liga Lead In Complicated Sevilla Tie

It's make-or-break week for Real Madrid, as their title hopes are already on the line in a key matchup with Sevilla. A win would guarantee los blancos' spot atop the Liga; a loss would knock any remaining wind from their sails. WHO WILL PREVAIL?!?!

Real Madrid, depressed after their loss to arch-rivals FC Barcelona in last weekend's clásico, travel to Sevilla to take on the rojiblancos (ever notice how many teams are called "rojiblancos"--seriously, just try to name all of them) at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, a notoriously hostile environment.  But hey, after the tongue-lashing los merengues received at the hands of their own fans after (and during) the clásico, this should be a walk in the park! Oh, and in the week's odd side-note, Barcelona already played this fixture a couple weeks ago, beating Rayo Vallecano 4-0. 

Saturday, December 17

Sporting vs. Espanyol

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

A couple years ago, Espanyol was one of my favorite teams to watch in Spain; now, they're well...meh. But hey, they're playing Sporting in that rojiblanco (1) haven, Gijón, so at least we'll get to see some defensive fireworks...not. (Wait, when did "not" jokes go out of style? After the Borat movie?) 

Pick: 1-2 to Espanyol.

Mallorca vs. Getafe

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Over the past couple weeks, Mallorca has actually managed to put together a decent string of results, winning twice and drawing once. And with mediocre-to-bad Getafe coming to town? More of the same, thank you.

Pick: 2-1 to Mallorca. 

Athletic Bilbao vs. Zaragoza

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

Get ready for some fireworks, people: defensively (and offensively...really just "football")-challenged Zaragoza travel to Basque country to take on Marcelo Bielsa's band of flying rojiblanco (2) lunatics (his nickname is "el loco," I don't actually think the players are insane). Get ready for a high-scoring shootout...which, if recent results hold, will never come, as Athletic has strung together two 1-1 draws and a 0-1 loss over the past three weeks. Ugly.

Pick: 1-0 to Athletic. Trend's gotta change at some point.

Sevilla vs. Real Madrid

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

It's the headliner people! An embattled Real Madrid are looking to turn their game-in-hand advantage over FC Barcelona into an actual point-advantage (remember, Barça actually already played this fixture two weeks ago). If Madrid win or draw against the rojiblancos (3) they'll grab first place in the Liga--though they won't be too thrilled, especially if they draw. I expect an attacking, angry Madrid side on Saturday--which makes for great fun for neutrals. 

Pick: 1-2 to Real Mourinho.

Sunday, December 18

Atlético Madrid vs. Real Betis

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

Well, Atlético is Spain's third-favorite team (according to some surveys that I made up), and is proud to be their 10th-best Liga side. But you know what's even better? Los rojiblancos (4) are starting a bizarre new publicity campaign that will allow fans to graft their own pictures into jersey numbers, which the players will then have to wear (I think). I have literally no idea how that will work.   

Pick: 0-0 draw.

Granada vs. Levante 

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

This might be my underrated game of the week: both these teams are actually kinda, well, surprising. Levante is still in fourth place, clinging to the last Champions League spot, while los rojiblancos (5) have actually strung together a couple of impressive wins, especially over Athletic Bilbao in Bilbao. And, as I always seem to pick the wrong option for Levante, I'm gonna go ahead and pick neither.

Pick: 0-0 draw.

Osasuna vs. Villarreal

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Did you know that Villarreal has only won three games in la Liga this year? Three. 

Pick: 2-2 draw.

Racing Santander vs. Real Sociedad

19:45 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Racing suck. La Real is slightly better. I'm not sure I have tons more to say about this match, though I wouldn't be shocked if these two get stuck in some sort of close-to-relegation fight (though la Real might be safe for now). 

Pick: 0-1 to la Real.

Valencia vs. Málaga

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

If you can't watch Real Madrid-Sevilla, then definitely try to catch this matchup between to ascendant, young, exciting sides. Valencia, third in the Liga so far, have been one of the bigger surprises of the season: despite losing Juan Mata during the offseason, they've actually played phenomenal football over the past few months, drawing Barcelona and almost tying Real Madrid. Málaga, on the other hand, had huge expectations coming into the season, only to quickly fade as people realized that hey, this team has NO EFFING DEFENSE. Still, should be a fun one. 

Pick: 3-2 to Valencia.

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