La Liga 2011, Week 14: Barcelona Hosts Ex-Leader Levante As Real Madrid Travel To Gijón

Barcelona hosts Levante in another must-win game for the blaugrana, as Real Madrid travel to Gijón to fight with Manuel Preciado--er, I mean "play Sporting."

Just so everyone's clear, Barcelona's mid-week pasting of overmatched Rayo Vallecano replaces the two teams' week 17 match, as the culés will be in Japan playing in the Club World Cup. Thought I'd clear that up with everyone before continuing with my normal, complaint-filled rant. Anyways, how could the LFP do [blah, blah, you get the idea]. But yeah, this week doesn't have, well, any super-entertaining fixtures. So there. 

Saturday, December 3

Sporting Gijón vs. Real Madrid 

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Manuel Preciado hates José Mourinho. Real Madrid dropped points in this same fixture last year. Cristiano Ronaldo will probably sit out with an injury to prepare for the clásico next week. In fact, most of Madrid's players will probably be thinking about Barcelona. So, classic trap game? Well, let's just say I wouldn't talk anyone out of betting Sporting to win (13/1) or draw (6.25/1). 

Pick: 0-1 to Madrid. Just because I wouldn't talk you out of it doesn't mean I actually expect it. 

Racing Santander vs. Villarreal

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Villarreal has been really, really bad this season. But they're definitely better than Racing. For the first time in a while, I get the feeling that this might be a pretty easy win for the Submarine. But, judging by the way this season has gone, I will never underestimate their ability to make easy fixtures complicated. 

Pick: 0-1 to Villarreal.

FC Barcelona vs. Levante

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

Well, looooky here! Just when everyone (including me!) wrote Levante off...they thrash Sporting 4-0. And now, they'll go right back to the their losing ways, as every single game has become important for Barça's quest to repeat. Plus, you're not really thinking of betting against Messi at home this year...right?

Pick: 3-0 to Barça. 

Valencia vs. Espanyol

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

Oh, by the way, Roberto Soldado is really good. (See how I started this "oh, by the way" like I'm some obnoxious person? See what I did there?). And there's very little defensive presence with Espanyol that doesn't have a last name that rhymes with Flameni...and he's being forced out for some reason. Not a great time for Espanyol. 

Pick: 3-1 to Valencia.

Sunday, December 4

Atlético Madrid vs. Rayo Vallecano

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

Well, if it isn't a feisty southern Madrid derby to get the day started! Both sides are coming off prodigious pastings from the top two (Atleti lost 4-1 to Real Madrid, Rayo lost 4-0 to Barcelona), and will be looking to improve their luck against their not-really-across-but-more-like-kinda-near city rivals. Radamel Falcao should be back for Atleti.

Pick: 2-1 to Atleti. Falcaaaao.

Real Sociedad vs. Málaga

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

This could be the underrated game of the week, against all odds. Sure, Real Sociedad has been uneven, but they're playing at home, against a tough-but-beatable Málaga side. This one could be a shootout (or just a blowout if Málaga get on a roll). Either way, I'm buying.

Pick: 2-2 draw. Goals, please.

Osasuna vs. Real Betis

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Oof. I hesitate to pick against Osasuna at home, considering how stronghold-y (yup, made that word up) the Reyno de Navarra used to be. Ultimately, this one will probably be a stay-away game for me, though I've been seriously wrong about those recently. 

Pick: 0-0 draw.

Mallorca vs. Athletic Bilbao

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

Mallorca has historically been an unfun team to play at home. Now, I just don't know what to think. Especially after Athletic lost to Granada last week. Brutal.

Pick: 0-2 to Athletic. 

Granada vs. Zaragoza

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

Granada pulled out a genuinely shocking away win against Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao last week. Now, they have the infinitely easier Zaragoza, and this time at home. So, Granada, are you up to the challenge?

Pick: 1-0 to Granada.

Monday, December 5

Sevilla vs. Getafe

21:00 CET (3:00 PM EST)

Getafe shocked the world with their 1-0 sure-they-were-lucky-but-come-on win against Barcelona last week. I really don't see that continuing.

Pick: 2-1 to Sevilla. 

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