La Liga 2012, Week 10 preview and fixtures: Giants host minnows; Valencia-Atletico previews battle for third

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Real Madrid and Barcelona are hosting Zaragoza and Celta, respectively, in what should be a couple of relatively easy three point bumps. Valencia and Atleti, in the meantime, will lock horns in Valencia in a battle between the once and future third place finishers.

There's really one match to watch this weekend, and neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona are involved. The giants will host minnows this week, and the Liga will take a break from worrying about the horse race.

The big story of the weekend is the face-off between the once and future third place finishers, with Valencia hosting Atlético Madrid. Atleti have been one of the better teams in Europe this season, and have remained at the top of la Liga thanks to a magnificent season from Radamel Falcao. Valencia, on the other hand, have displayed a remarkable amount of inconsistency, showing off some sparkling play at times, and some absolutely lethargic games at others.

Should be a good test for the once and future kings (of the rest of la Liga).

Saturday, November 3

Málaga vs. Rayo Vallecano

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

It looks like even Málaga should have a pretty easy go of it this week--Rayo has been good but not great this season (compared to last year, where they roundly surpassed expectations for much of the season). It won't be a walk in the park for Málaga, but it should be relatively comfortable.

Pick: 2-1 to Málaga.

FC Barcelona vs. Celta

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

Yawn and move on, people. Walk in the park (well, in the Nou Camp) for a Barça that hasn't really suffered yet this year.

Pick: 5-1 to Barça.

Real Madrid vs. Zaragoza

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

Yeah, this one should be pretty much a lock, too. Madrid has been getting better these past few weeks, and they're just great at dismantling Zaragoza.

Pick: 4-1 to Madrid.

Valencia vs. Atletico Madrid

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

Valencia is a team searching for a coherent identity...and getting close to finding it. Atlético Madrid has found an identity--Radamel Falcao--and are exploiting it to the greatest extent possible. This has lead to a situation where there might be a flip in the coming years, with Valencia dropping below Atleti on the perennial Liga leaderboard. Could this be the beginning of the end? Possibly.

Pick: 0-3 to Atleti. It's time.

Sunday, November 4

Real Sociedad vs. Espanyol

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

This should be an interesting match, as both teams are fighting for the same ultimate position, more or less--a mid-table spot without an possibility of descent.

Pick: 0-1 to Espanyol.

Deportivo vs. Mallorca

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

I don't really know what Mallorca's deal is this year. They were a contender last year, but some part of me feels like there was some flukiness there; and they're fighting hard to remain up there this year. It's unclear where they'll end up. But they're definitely better than Depor.

Pick: 1-2 to Mallorca.

Osasuna vs. Valladolid

(17:50 CET, 11:50 AM EST)

I'm interested to see the attacking Valladolid go into Osasuna--it'll be interesting to see if they lose their identity on the rough terrain of the Reyno.

Pick: 0-1 to Valladolid.

Granada vs. Athletic Bilbao

(19:45 CET, 1:45 PM EST)

Snippy comment about Athletic Bilbao's downturn since last season. Snarky comment about Granada's abilities. Weird joke about Fernando Llorente! CAPS LOCK DECLARATION OF LOVE OF LLORENTE!

Pick: 1-2 to Athletic.

Sevilla vs. Levante

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

Sevilla: not that bad a team. Their careful rebuilding post-Juande is finally beginning to (barely) show some results. Levante: regression to the mean.

Pick: 2-0 to Sevilla.

Monday, November 5

Getafe vs. Real Betis

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

Agh. Geta by a hair, and this really seems like a gut check call. I have no real reason to feel this way and would certainly not bet on it.

Pick: 1-0 to Getafe.

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