La Liga 2012, Week 8 Preview And Fixtures: FIFA Virus Could Spell Doom For Real Madrid

Denis Doyle

Real Madrid lost both of their defensive backs, and their best substitute defender. Will the FIFA bug leave Real Madrid comatose and gasping for life in la Liga?

Over the last week, injuries to defenders Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa, and Fabio Coentrão crippled Real Madrid's defensive line. But will these FIFA-related injuries derail Mourinho's momentum in la Liga?

Saturday, October 19

Málaga vs. Valladolid

(16:00 CET, 10:00 AM EST)

So it's finally time to start talking seriously about Málaga: they're no threat to actually win the Liga, but, even after their financial meltdown this summer, it's finally safe to consider them top-3 threats. Look out, Valencia: you have some competition.

Pick: 3-1 to Málaga.

Real Madrid vs. Celta Vigo

(18:00 CET, 12:00 PM EST)

Madrid will have to go into this matchup very carefully: they're missing both defensive backs (Marcelo and Arbeloa), and their all-purpose back/defensive midfielder (Fabio Coentrão), and they've been notoriously weak on the wings. They're a little lucky that they drew Celta for this match--Celta is still a pretty weak side--but los blancos are going to be vulnerable, and we could see another early-season shock. All eyes on Madrid.

Pick: 2-1 to Real Madrid.

Valencia vs. Athletic Bilbao

(20:00 CET, 2:00 PM EST)

While the previous match might have the most potential to change the dynamics of the Liga this season, this Valencia-Bilbao might be the match of the week. Los leones have been in a tailspin since the end of last season, but look to be turning things around slightly with the return of Fernando Llorente; Valencia, on the other hand, have remained solidly towards the top of the Liga--but have yet to truly break through. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Pick: 1-2 to Bilbao.

Deportivo vs. FC Barcelona

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

The only thing running in Depor's favor today is Lionel Messi's possible absence due to his wife's pregnancy.

Pick: 0-3 to Barça.

Sunday, October 20

Getafe vs. Levante

(12:00 CET, 6:00 AM EST)

You waking up at six for this snoozer?

Pick: 0-0.

Espanyol vs. Rayo Vallecano

(16:00 CET, 10:00 AM EST)

Rayo are not quite the team they were last year--the sort of take-all-comers, we're-small-but-feisty attitude. They're still a fun team to watch, but Espanyol is certainly stronger.

Pick: 2-1 to Espanyol.

Granada vs. Zaragoza

(18:00 CET, 12:00 PM EST)

Blegh. Granada is an exciting team to watch, at the very least, and my irrational hatred of Zaragoza is, well, irrational. But still.

Pick: 0-0.

Osasuna vs. Real Betis

(19:50 CET, 1:50 PM EST)

This one has some snooze-fest potential, too: but Betis can be exciting towards the end of games, and I'd snag a Mahou and watch this one.

Pick: 1-2 to Betis.

Real Sociedad vs. Atlético Madrid

(21:30 CET, 3:30 PM EST)

Radamel Falcao is having a great year: he's blossoming into one of the top few players in the entire world. The more we see of him the better; if only because one day he'll play on Real Madrid.

Pick: 1-2 to Atleti.

Monday, October 21

Sevilla vs. Mallorca

(21:30 CET, 3:30 PM EST)

Sevilla aren't quite back to where they were in 2007 or so--the peak of the Juande-style era--but they're definitely on the right track. Their epic match against Barcelona--Cesc Fabregas flop included--was a high moment for Sevilla, despite the loss: they were fantastic, and outplayed the Blaugrana for most of the game.

Pick: 2-1 to Sevilla.

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