La Liga 2012, Week 33 Preview And Fixtures: The Deep Breath Before The Plunge

Aragorn?

I like "the breath before the plunge" better than "the calm before the storm". So deal with it.

You know that scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Pippin and Gandalf are sitting on the balcony in Minas Tirith looking out at the plains as the sky slowly blackens? Pippin turns to Gandalf and says, "It's so quiet..." "It's the deep breath before the plunge," Gandalf replies.

This week of la Liga action is pretty much that scene incarnate. There aren't any huge matches--though Barcelona's trip to Levante might be Pep Guardiola's last big challenge (you know, other than the Clásico) before the end of the season--and it seems like everyone is just sitting, waiting for the week ahead.

Enjoy the rest while you can.

Saturday, April 14

Real Madrid vs. Sporting Gijón

20:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

José Mourinho and company need a strong win to send them into what we've affectionately called "Hell Week" on a good foot. After this match, Madrid will host Bayern Munich in the Champions League, travel to Barcelona for the Clásico, then travel to Munich for the return leg against Bayern. Yeah, not pleasant.

Pick: 3-0 to Real Madrid.

Levante vs. FC Barcelona

22:00 CET (4:00 PM EST)

This might be it for Barcelona. If they fail to pick up any points in Levante, then Madrid could very well escape for good. If they win, though, they're looking at a pretty easy schedule through the end of the season--not counting the Clásico, of course. Given how well they're playing, do you really think Pep won't be able to figure out how to crack Levante's defense?

Pick: 1-2 to Barcelona.

Sunday, April 15

Espanyol vs. Valencia

12:00 CET (6:00 AM EST)

This is a sneaky-good game, with a couple of pretty darn exciting teams. Valencia needs to solidify their Champions League spot, and Espanyol needs to crank off a couple good wins to get back into contention as one of the better sides in Spain.

Pick: 1-0 to Espanyol.

Zaragoza vs. Granada

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

An epic battle to avoid relegation. Two sides on the wrong side of the line. Only one will come out on top. Or both. You know, because they could draw. Damnit, I messed that up.

Pick: 0-0.

Real Betis vs. Osasuna

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

Mid-level away side against pretty defensive home side. There are a lot of other 16:00 games on.

Pick: 0-0.

Málaga vs. Real Sociedad

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

I was so right about Málaga. They are good. And they're going to remain good.

Pick: 2-0 to Málaga.

Villarreal vs. Racing Santander

16:00 CET (10:00 AM EST)

Villarreal are a lot better than Racing, no matter what the table tells us.

Pick: 1-0 to Villarreal. Aupa Submarino!

Athletic Bilbao vs. Mallorca

18:00 CET (2:00 PM EST)

Athletic! Marcelo Bielsa! Wooooo! Seriously, though, I love this team. Unfortunately, that's the popular thing to say. But I totally liked them before they were cool. I did! I'm being serial!

Pick: 3-1 to Bielsa.

Rayo Vallecano vs. Atlético Madrid

21:30 CET (3:30 PM EST)

VALLECAS! But seriously, Atleti looked really good against Real Madrid, no matter the scoreline. If they come out with that same intensity (and there's like a 2% chance they will, they'll destroy Rayo).

Pick: 1-0 to VALLECAS!

Monday, April 16

Getafe vs. Sevilla

21:00 CET (3:00 PM EST)

Sevilla is finally looking like Sevilla again. And Getafe is still looking a good deal like Getafe. And not the 2007 EuroGeta. The 2012 Oh Wait, We Suck Geta.

Pick: 1-3 to Sevilla.

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