La Liga 2012, Week 27 Preview And Fixtures: Barcelona Travels To Sevilla With Heavy Heart

Ánimo, Eric!

It's St. Patrick's day in Ireland, which we call San Patricio in Spain. And I'm going to spend most of the day on the beach in 70 degree weather drinking cold, green beer. Oh, yeah.

FC Barcelona received some tragic news Thursday afternoon: Eric Abidal, their French defender, will need an emergency liver transplant after his hepatic conditioned worsened. Doctors operated on Abidal last year at around this time to remove a small mass in his liver, and while they left open the option of a transplant, few saw this turn of events coming. All of our thoughts go out to Eric and his family, and we wish him the absolute best as he confronts this newest challenge.

So it’s with a heavy heart that la Liga continues—Abidal’s FC Barcelona teammates travel south to Andalucía to take on Sevilla in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on Saturday in a game that under other circumstances might be one of the more anticipated match-ups of the weekend. Now, however, his teammates thoughts’ will be elsewhere; and there’s no doubt that the Sevilla faithful will lend a sympathetic ear, as they know very vividly what it is like to lose a highly talented defender (though, obviously, Abidal’s case isn’t exactly like Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta, who died on the pitch).

In more upbeat news, it team Athletic Bilbao, fresh off their 2-1 defeat of Manchester United in the Europa league, play host to third place Valencia, who qualified for the quarterfinals of the Europa League as well. This should be an exciting, open match, with lots of attacking. I’m certainly excited to see it.

Oh, and Real Madrid host all-attack Málaga. Expect fireworks. Don’t expect a super-competitive match.

Saturday, March 17

Getafe vs. Real Sociedad

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Neither of these sides have looked fantastic this season; neither have looked absolutely atrocious, which is what they’d need to be to be in danger of relegation. So…I dunno, I’d watch this match. It might be the best of the 18:00 ones, and when two mid-table sides play, there are sometimes fireworks. But there’s always the off-chance that this will be a 0-0 draw. Hmm.

Pick: 2-1 to Geta.

Real Zaragoza vs. Osasuna

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Zaragoza is still the worst team in the Liga. They will certainly be relegated at the end of the season. But does that mean they can’t surprise a mid-level side? Actually, yes probably.

Pick: 0-1 to Osasuna.

Granada vs. Sporting Gijón

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Man, I don’t even know what to say about this match. These are both relegation-battle sides, so this match might have the most at stake of all the 18:00 games…but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to care.

Pick: 1-1.

Sevilla vs. FC Barcelona

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

How can you not be distracted by the Abidal situation of you’re Barça? I mean, it sucks. It’s very possible, though, that Pep Guardiola’s boys will come out firing, looking to win one for Eric, so to speak. If that’s the case, then this could get ugly quickly.

Pick: 2-5 to Barcelona.

Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Betis

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

RAYO! WOOOO! Sorry, I’m totally blinded by my devotion to this epic blue-collar side, so I’m incapable of being objective. RAUL TAMUDO! MICHU!!! VIVA VALLECAS!!!

Pick: 2-1 to VALLECAS!!!

Sunday, March 18

Levante vs. Villarreal

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

Morning game for Villarreal again. Our friends over at VillarrealUSA must be cursing the Spanish LFP for making them wake up at 6 to catch this game against hyper-physical Levante. But Villarreal really needs to start taking all the available points if they’re going to cement their place above the drop zone…so sorry, guys, they’re going to need your support, even at 6:00 AM.

Pick: 1-2 to Villarreal. I believe! I also don't believe in Levante.

Mallorca vs. Atlético Madrid

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

Atleti has been so good in Europe that I feel like there’s gotta be some sort of swing back in Liga. They’re just not a multi-tasking side. But maybe I’m being to pessimistic. I mean…FALCAO!

Pick: 1-1. I mean it's Atleti. Don't forget that.

Athletic Bilbao vs. Valencia

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Probably the best game of the week. Athletic is definitely the it team of the past couple weeks, and Marcelo Bielsa is finally getting the mainstream acclaim that we here at SBNation have been heaping on him for years. So…we called it. He’s awesome.

Pick: 2-2 to us!

Real Madrid vs. Málaga

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

Real Madrid is a really good team, even if they seem to be in a bit of a dip of form. Karim Benzema came back from his injury to score within 45 seconds against CSKA Moscow in the Champions’ League Wednesday evening, so that will only help them. And Kaká is finally rounding into pre-injury form, and Angel Di Maria ia on the recovery trail. And Málaga doesn’t play defense.

Pick: 4-1 to Madrid

Monday, March 19

RCD Espanyol vs. Racing Santander

21:00 CET (3:00 PM EST)

Espanyol showed off a feisty attack that we all thought was dead last week against Rayo Vallecano (I’m still quietly sobbing about that game), and they should continue to roll against a Racing side that really doesn’t have much redeeming value (which is probably why they’re bankrupt with a MIA owner).

Pick: 3-1 to Espanyol.

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