La Liga 2012, Week 26 Preview And Fixtures: Barcelona, Real Madrid Hit The Road

HE'S A GOLDEN GOD

After a couple of weeks of interesting matches, Spain's all-knowing schedulers produced this dud. It's like the world is punishing Athletic Bilbao for beating Manchester United. Well, kinda.

If two weeks ago (think last week of February) was one of the signature weeks of Spanish football--with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Athletic, and Atlético Madrid all playing tough, open games), then this week is exactly the opposite. Real Madrid and Barcelona travel to Sevilla and Santander to take on Real Betis and Racing (respectively), in showdowns with a couple of broke bottom feeders. Spain's other great teams aren't playing each other, giving this week the distinct feel of the first game of the NCAA basketball tournament. Sure, there might be some upsets--but not ones that will really matter (can you remember the last time a 16-seed beat a 1-seed? Oh, right, it hasn't ever happened). But there's a first time for everything, right? RIGHT?!

Saturday, March 10

Málaga vs. Levante

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

This is one of the only games between two sides vying for European competitions this week...and it kinda sucks. Levante are a brutal side to play--they're defensive, hyper-physical, and tend to base their matches around shutting down the other side's offense rather than creating anything themselves. And Málaga? Well, they have no defense. So...it could end up being a bloodbath.

Pick: 0-1 to Levante. I don't think Málaga likes this kind of game.

Real Sociedad vs. Real Zaragoza

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Well, at least we'll see some goals, amirite?!

Pick: 0-0 amiwrong?!.

Sporting Gijón vs. Sevilla

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

Sporting put up quite a fight against Barcelona last week, going so far as to get Piqué sent off for preventing an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and tying the game (THE NERVE). Piqué responded to what he called a "premeditated" act by the referee after the game, which begs the question of whether Piqué should be allowed to open his mouth ever (we've conclusively concluded--yeah--that Sergio Ramos also should never speak ever).

Pick: 0-1 to Sevilla.

Real Betis vs. Real Madrid

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

Karim Benzema will not play for Madrid against lowly Betis in Sevilla on Saturday. And hey, it's not like Betis are that bad--remember when they were in contention for a European spot after winning their first two matches? In all seriousness, it's no fun to play Betis in Sevilla, so Mourinho's boys might have a little more than they bargained for Saturday night. So what, they'll probably win by like two instead of five, AMIRITE?!

Pick: 1-3 to Real Madrid.

Sunday, March 11

Atlético Madrid vs. Granada

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

Atlético is doing one of their classic Jekyll and Hyde seasons--crushing it in Europe, being semi-disastrous in Spain. Their last five Liga games have been: draw, draw, draw, loss, draw. Not hugely confidence inspiring. But a game against a pretty crappy Granada squad should have them up and about in no time!

Pick: 1-0 to Atleti.

Espanyol vs. Rayo Vallecano

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

Honestly, this might be the only match I closely follow this weekend. Espanyol needs to rebound after taking a beating in Madrid (expected), and Rayo needs to continue to build on their momentum to make a sustained Europe push. Plus, VALLECAS!

Pick: 1-2 to Rayo. Did I mention that VALLECAS!

Valencia vs. Mallorca

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

Valencia are pretty good. Mallorca are pretty medium. Roberto Soldado is fun to watch. Ever Banega was run over by his own car (yes).

Pick: 2-0 to Valencia.

Racing Santander vs. Barcelona

18:00 CET (12:00 PM EST)

Barcelona's defense is pretty much shot, with Puyol injured and Pique banned for one match for that whole "premeditated" thing. But hey, they're playing Racing. Effing Racing. They suck. So sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Pick: 1-5 to Lionel Messi.

Osasuna vs. Athletic Bilbao

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

Marcelo Bielsa's boys are coming off an incredibly thrilling victory over Manchester United (AWESOME), where United's best player was ex-Atleti keeper David De Gea. Fernando Llorente is really good. (Thoughts unrelated). He also looks like a golden god. A GOLDEN GOD I TELL YOU!

Pick: 0-2 to GOLDEN GODS

Monday, March 12

Villarreal vs. Getafe

21:00 CET (3:00 PM EST)

Villarreal, despite their pretty fantastic form of late, is only three points above the drop zone. Geta is only two points above Villarreal. Hmm. Which of these two teams do you think might actually go down this season? HINT: IF YOU SAID "BOTH," YOU ARE CORRECT! Please email us to receive your free prize!

Pick: 2-1 to Villarreal.

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