La Liga, Week 2: Villarreal-Sevilla Highlights Return From International Break

Let's hope Athletic Bilbao learn how to make Marcelo Bielsa feel that he has to make this gesture. I feel like that'd be a good thing for everyone.

La Liga returns after a completely unnecessary international break. Will this be the week that Real Madrid and Barcelona separate themselves from the pack? (No). Will Van Nistelrooy finally score for Málaga? (Yes).

Welcome back to la Liga! After a terribly boring week of international soccer that saw an exciting Chile squad put the fear of God into a uncomfortable-looking Spain side (and then literally put the fist of God into Álvaro Arbeloa's face), this dreadfully two-sided domestic competition is back. Finally, Real Madrid and Barcelona players can go back to hating each other (no one's buying it, guys), and we get to wake up at 6:00 AM EST to watch Real Betis take on equally-boring side Mallorca. Are you as excited as I am?

Saturday, September 10

Villarreal vs. Sevilla

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST), El Madrigal, Vila-real

It's rare to see the Saturday la Liga matches be so much (and I really do mean so much) more exciting than the Sunday matches. But that's the case this week, as we start off with the marquee matchup (for neutrals, that is), between a Villarreal side that will be looking to bounce back after their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of FC Barcelona, and a Sevilla side that will be looking to build on its' 2-1 victory over Málaga in the opener. While it's hard to pick against Villarreal at home, this Sevilla team looks really solid this year, and Álvaro Negredo appears to be in top form already. I don't expect that to change. 

Pick: 0-1 to Sevilla.

Real Sociedad vs. FC Barcelona

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST), Anoeta, San Sebastián

Starting this week, I'm going to be pioneering my new prediction system for Real Madrid and Barcelona games. It will come up with the maximum number of possible goals in a game. It will then multiply that by infinity. So, despite the fact that last time they played, Real eeked out a 2-1 win, my system projects a pretty hefty win for Barcelona.

Pick: 1-∞ to Barcelona.

Real Madrid vs. Getafe

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST), Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

This will be an exciting game, in the same way that watching a steamroller slowly destroy a box of balsa wood is exciting. Firing up my predict-o-tron 1000...

Pick: ∞-0 to Madrid.

Valencia vs. Atlético Madrid

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

Apparently these two teams don't like each other. Seems odd, sort of like the middle two children hating each other instead of ganging up against their older brothers. But hey! Valencia could be a really fun side, especially if Éver Banega can keep his pants on for the whole match (Banega joke number two, check). Wait, would that make them more or less exciting? This match could also see the debut of Atleti's new highly-touted striker Radamel Falcao, who will probably spend the whole match running away from...Éver Banega. 

Pick: 2-2 Draw.

Sunday, September 11

Real Betis vs. Mallorca

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST), Estadio Benito Villamarín, Sevilla

Thank heavens la Liga finally decided to move the schedule earlier in the day, this way the whole Asian continent will get a real, close look at...recently promoted Real Betis play against an ultra-defensive Mallorca side that just lost its best creative midfielder. Percent chance I'm waking up for this match: 0.05.

Pick: 0-0 snoozefest.

Racing Santander vs. Levante

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST), El Sardinero, Santander

And, in the second of the they-changed-the-schedule-to-broadcast-WHAT? games, Racing Santander--who lost brutally to Valencia in the final minute last week--take on Levante, a team that I have nothing to say about.

Pick: 0-0 draw.

Osasuna vs. Sporting Gijón

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST), Reyno de Navarra Stadium, Osasuna

Rounding out the lets-screw-ourselves-by-broadcasting-our-worst-matches-in-Asia games, ultra-defensive Osasuna take on ultra-relegation level Sporting at home. 

Pick: 0-0 draw. (Yes, I think the poor Asian markets will not see a Spanish league goal on Sunday).

Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Zaragoza

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST), Estadio Teresa Rivero, Madrid

I'm excited to say that both of these teams surprised me in the first round: Rayo, by not losing, and Zaragoza, by conceding six goals (albeit to Real Madrid). I only see one of those streaks continuing. 

Pick: 2-1 to Rayo.

Espanyol vs. Athletic

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST), Estadio Cornellá-El Prat, Barcelona

This game is by a long margin the most exciting Spanish match on Sunday. Athletic Bilbao are coming off a silly draw at home to Rayo Vallecano (a team they should beat), and Espanyol are looking to rebound from a similarly-dispiriting loss at Mallorca. Both teams were active in the transfer market, so hopefully Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa will feel he has the players to try out his hybrid 4-3-3 / 3-1-3-3 ultra-attacking system, while Espanyol can counter with one of my favorite players "el Rifle" Walter Pandiani.

Pick: 2-3 to Athletic.

Monday, September 12

Málaga vs. Granada

21:00 CET (3:00 PM EST), Estadio La Rosaleda, Málaga

Super-Málaga is back! And this time, they're not playing a very good team! In the second of many Andalusian derbies, the nouveau-riche Málaga side will look to gel against a recently-promoted Granada squad that lost its' opening match at home to also-recently-promoted Betis. Expect Van "The Man" Nistelrooy to score. At least once. Because if Manuel Pellegrini has taught us anything, it's that his sides will score, and score often.

Pick: 3-0 to Málaga.

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