Spanish La Liga 2011, Week 4 Preview And Fixtures: Barcelona Vs. Valencia A Massive Match; Real Madrid Look To Bounce Back

Barcelona and Valencia contest easily the biggest match of the round, while Real Madrid try to get back on track, Real Betis tries to go top (seriously), and Marcelo Bielsa tries to stay gainfully employed.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have both had early slip ups in La Liga. So, surely this means this is the year that another team has a chance?!? No, this exact thing happened last season and both teams ended on eleventy billion points, eclipsing everyone else by a whole lot. However, Valencia are currently on top of the table and face Barcelona in Week 4's mid-week fixtures. If they can pull off a win, they can cause overzealous bloggers and journalists to flood the internet with hyperbolic columns. Doesn't everyone want that? Vamos Los Che, indeed.

Tuesday

Osasuna Vs. Sevilla

2:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local

Osasuna have done a marvelous job of utilizing an incredibly boring style of play to stay up in La Liga over the last couple of years. That strategy failed miserably when they were thrashed 8-0 by an angry Barcelona team on Saturday. Meanwhile, Sevilla are underachieving a bit, but they're still on seven points through three games. It would be surprising if they couldn't nick a win.

Pick: 1-0 Sevilla

Real Sociedad Vs. Granada

2:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local

After suffering a bad thrashing at the hands of Malaga, Udinese B FC (Granada) shocked a reeling Villarreal side with a 1-0 win over the weekend. No team in world football has more players that you've heard of but can't actually recall watching play. Meanwhile, Real Sociedad are the most bipolar team on planet earth. At home, though, they're usually pretty darn good.

Pick: 2-1 La Real

Villarreal Vs. Mallorca

4:00 pm ET, 10:00 pm local

Three La Liga games, one point for the Yellow Submarine. They were bad against Bayern Munich in the Champions League as well. In the race for third and fourth places in La Liga, as well as a top three spot to stay in Europe in Champions League Group A, Villarreal appear to be on the outside looking in. If they can't get a win against Mallorca at El Madrigal on Tuesday, alarm bells are going to be ringing.

Pick: 2-1 Villarreal

Wednesday

Atletico Madrid Vs. Sporting Gijon

2:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local

Radamel Falcao is the truth.

Pick: 3-1 Atleti

Malaga Vs. Athletic Bilbao

2:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local

The Marcelo Bielsa era is off to an absolutely horrific start in the Basque Country. With one draw and two losses in their first three matches - all of which were winnable - Fernando Llorente might be asking to depart for greener pastures faster than you can say Euskaltzaindia. Pre-season, a loss away to Malaga might have been an acceptable result. Now that it's the fourth game of the season and Bilbao are winless in their first three, a loss here can't just be written off as an acceptable result in a tough fixture. Meanwhile, Malaga have looked great in their two games since losing to Sevilla. Sorry Marcelo, but your seat is about to get exceptionally hot.

Pick: 3-2 Malaga

Racing Santander Vs. Real Madrid

2:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local

Think that loss to Levante was indicative of Madrid's quality? Me either. There are only so many games in which Sami Khedira will cost his team the game by being a complete moron. Vegas sets the over-under at 1.5.

Pick: 3-0 Madrid

Rayo Vallecano Vs. Levante

2:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local

No thanks.

Pick: 1-1 draw

Valencia Vs. Barcelona

4:00 pm ET, 10:00 pm local

This one is the big show. Even the most arrogant of Barcelona fans has to admit that a trip to the Mestalla to face Valencia is a very tough one, but the Blaugranas are still favored. They're still the best team in the world despite their two slip-ups against Real Sociedad and AC Milan, as they attempted to prove with their 8-0 win over Osasuna. They have the firepower to put anyone to the sword.

Los Che are currently top of the table, though no one really thinks they have a legitimate shot at staying there. Win against Barca while Madrid slip, though, and things will get really fun for a while. Here's to hoping. Not going to happen, though.

Pick: 2-1 Barcelona

Thursday

Espanyol Vs. Getafe

2:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local

It's the battle of former European contenders who were forced by financial constraints into selling all of their best players! Now they suck! La Liga, it's fantastic! *cries*

Pick: 1-1 draw

Real Betis Vs. Real Zaragoza

4:00 pm ET, 10:00 pm local

If Valencia does not beat Barcelona and Betis beats Zara, which they should, they will go top of the table. This is literally the coolest thing that will happen in La Liga this season. Unless you support Sevilla.

Pick: 3-1 Betis

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