La Liga 2012, Week 30 Preview And Fixtures: With Normalcy Restored, Real Madrid, Barcelona Face Complicated Rivals

Cristiano Ronaldo (#7) of Real Madrid CF celebrates with Kaka after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

The calm before the storm: Real Madrid restored some semblance of normalcy to the Liga after their PLUMMET INTO THE BOWELS OF HELL (aka, drawing to Málaga and Villarreal). But now both Madrid and Barcelona have very complicated Aprils coming up...so get ready for some FREAKING OUT.

Real Madrid restored a modicum of normalcy to la Liga last weekend, thrashing Real Sociedad 5-1; Barcelona continued their strong form of late with a similarly destructive win over Mallorca. So we're back to duopoly-ville for the time being, at least, as los blancos face a complicated away fixture in Pamplona against Osasuna, while los culés host a shouldn't-they-be-better-in-Spain? Athletic Bilbao side in the Nou Camp.

Both of these matches have the ability to re-destabilize Madrid's non-stranglehold on la Liga; and this is just the beginning. Both DUOPOLIZERS (yeah, I made it up) are in for a pretty complicated April (assuming that Barcelona advances to the next round of the Champions League). So get ready for that. And for more clásicos.

Saturday, March 31

Racing Santander vs. Granada

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Neither of these sides defend particularly well, so this might be a really fun game to watch. I mean, it's not like they attack particularly well...but their defending is just piss poor. So enjoy it.

Sporting Gijón vs. Zaragoza

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Zaragoza's ability to keep up their run of semi-good form will be tested by our ability to care about it.

Pick: 0-0.

Osasuna vs. Real Madrid

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

Now this is going to be a slog. Osasuna are a tough, physical side, and play in a very, very complicated stadium. Barcelona already dropped points here earlier, and Real Madrid are going to be without Sami Khedira for the tie. Not a good recipe for grabbing a good result. But you know what is a good recipe for getting a good result? Angel Di María, who should be back in Mourinho's lineup.

Pick: 1-2 to Real Madrid.

Málaga vs. Betis

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

Hey look! It's one of my favorite sides playing against one of my least favorite (sorry, Betis, you had to find out some time). Ruud for the win.

Pick: 3-2 to Ruuuuuud.

FC Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

This would be a great game if Athletic Bilbao hadn't played 48 hours earlier. Seriously? They couldn't find a way around this? I mean, they could have just changed the Monday game to now, and this one to then. How hard could that possibly be? Am I the only one who doesn't get this?

Pick: 5-0 against Athletic B.

Sunday, April 1

Atletico Madrid vs. Getafe

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

It's the slightly less important Madrid derby! And this one is not a doozy. Atleti is a good team. And Getafe is bad. (Didn't I tell you Atleti would eventually get good? How much fun would an Atleti-Athletic Europa League final be? I know!)

Pick: 1-0 to Atleti.

Valencia vs. Levante

18:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

It's the Valencia derby! Last time I wrote this, I said something along the lines of "who are Levante?!" Well, they showed me, sort of. While the rest of the world will look on, wondering who Levante are...I will not. They are a top-10 la Liga side, miraculously.

Pick: 0-0. What? Valencia sucks right now.

Real Sociedad vs. Rayo Vallecano

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

Real Sociedad are not a good team. Rayo Vallecano are not a rich team. But they're rich in character, which is pretty much all you need to be eighth in the Liga.

Pick: 0-1 to VALLECAS!

Villarreal vs. Espanyol

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

I believe in Villarreal. Well, I believe that they won't get relegated. And the first step towards not being relegated is not losing to Espanyol.

Pick: 2-1, to the (other) Submarino Amarillo. Cádiz CF is the original. You can take that to the bank.

Monday, March 12

Sevilla vs. Mallorca

21:00 CET (3:00 PM EST)

Sevilla. I can't really understand them this season. So I'm not going to pretend I do. I do, however, firmly speculate that they are better than Mallorca. Especially in the Sánchez Pizjuán.

Pick: 2-0 to Sevilla.

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