La Liga 2012, Week 23 Preview And Fixtures: Real Madrid Host Levante As Bitter Cold Batters Spain


If you're a betting person, and you believe that Barcelona are going to win the league, now is the time to lay down your money--you won't get better odds.

Real Madrid have a seven-point lead in this edition of the Liga BBVA. While this may not seem particularly insurmountable if you're a fan of, oh, any other league in the world, in Spain it is actually about as close to Mount Everest as insurmountable leads get. (Did that metaphor make any sense? I'm sorry if not, I'm a little off my game this week because of the BRUTAL COLD WEATHER...I mean it's nearly 35 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT in Cádiz). But with Levante in town (they're one of two teams to beat Madrid this season--I'll let you guess the other team), nothing seems impossible for second-place Barcelona.

Saturday, February 11

Racing Santander vs. Atlético Madrid

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Atleti is really picking up steam in the Liga, and have managed to win a majority of their games since new coach Simeone came to town. However, this run begs the question: when will they revert to classic Atleti form and totally choke away a spot in Europe?

Pick: 1-1 to Racing. I know they won't win, but a 1-1 draw is a victory for such a bad side.

Osasuna vs. FC Barcelona

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

I hear it's cold in Pamplona. And that the pitch is in terrible condition. I'm not buying that these events are unrelated: here's a new conspiracy (much like the ones being circulated by Madrid-based daily Marca and Barcelona-based daily Sport)--Osasuna controls the weather, and have made it cold JUST TO SCREW BARCELONA. *Evil laugh*

Pick: 1-6 to Barça. Pep Guardiola 1-0 Mother Nature.

Real Betis vs. Athletic Bilbao

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

Will Marcelo Bielsa rest his starters in preparation for next week's tilt against Barcelona in the Copa final? Who cares, Betis sucks! LLORENTEEEEEEEE! (Edit: The Copa final is not next week, so LLORENTE, indeed.)

Pick: 0-2 to Athletic

Sunday, February 12

Espanyol vs. Real Zaragoza

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

It's another edition of the Take Points Away From The Worst Team game! Next up, it's Espanyol...come on down!

Pick: 2-0 to Espanyol.

Málaga vs. Mallorca

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

It's unseasonably cold in Málaga (if you hadn't heard), so the game time temperature might be a bone-freezing 40 degrees fahrenheit.

Pick: 0-0 draw, the most common result in Spain.

Rayo Vallecano vs. Getafe

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

Hey! It's the Madrid derby that literally only Madrileños care about! I'm a total Rayo fan, so I guess I gut to say "GO RAUL TAMUDO!"

Pick: 1-0 to Rayo. VALLECAS!

Valencia vs. Sporting Gijón

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Valencia was eliminated over the week in the Copa del Rey semifinals; Sporting have been so bad this season that they recently fired their head coach of eight years. Who's got it worse?

Pick: 2-1 to Valencia.

Villarreal vs. Granada

19:45 CET (1:45 PM EST)

VIllarreal are (kinda) back! They've notched strong results recently, and are hoping to propel themselves once and for all away from the relegation zone. A win over Granada would do wonders for their morale, and it would push another relegation-level side close to the brink.

Pick: 1-0 to Villarreal.

Real Madrid vs. Levante

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

Real Madrid host a very complicated (and rough) Levante side in the Bernabéu. Levante took points off of los blancos earlier in the year; but with many injured players scheduled to return this week, do you really expect José Mourinho to lose more than once to a mid-level side?

Pick: 3-1 to José Mourinho. Que viva el fútbol!

Monday, January 23

Real Sociedad vs. Sevilla

21:00 CET (3:00 PM EST)

Sevilla are really bad this year. Like, really bad. But with new coach Míchel coming in to clean things up, we can only imagine that this talented side will get better...right? I mean the guy said he wants to put more emphasis on Jesús Navas, their hyper-speed talented winger, so that's a good sign...I think. I mean, how many teams has Míchel coached in la Liga now? All of them?

Pick: 1-2 to Sevilla.

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