La Liga 2012, Week 5 Preview And Fixtures: This Is Already Over, Isn't It?

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19: Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona reacts during the UEFA Champions League group G match between FC Barcelona and FC Spartak Moscow at the Camp Nou stadium on September 19, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Serious people are declaring this Liga over. And you know what? I'm about ready to agree with them. But I don't want José Mourinho to sue me for libel, so I'm going to back off.

Quick, think back to the last time Real Madrid started off this badly. Having trouble? Yeah, it's hard to remember, even though it wasn't actually that long ago: recall--the era of the galacticos at its' apex, the Zidane goal in the final of the Champions League (maybe the greatest goal of all time, given the importance of the moment), the uncontested brilliance of that Madrid squad.

Yes, you get it, I know.

Well, the last time Madrid started this badly in the league, the went on to lose the it quite handily. But they also were one of the great sides of this generation--the 2001-2002 Real Madrid that swept to the Champions League on the grace and poise of Zinedine Zidane started off the Liga by going 1-3-2, getting five points out of their first six games. They would finish third. But that was back when Valencia was, you know, good, and Barcelona was, well, not.

Deportivo la Coruña came in second. Which gives us some perspective.

But in the era of duopoly, how can we possibly have a Liga with Madrid down by this much?

The answer: we can't.

Saturday, September 22

Zaragoza vs. Osasuna

(16:00 CET, 10:00 AM EST)

Snoozeronie to start off the weekend. It's ok, it'll get better.

Pick: 1-1.

Celta vs. Getafe

(18:00 CET, 12:00 PM EST)

This should be a good chance for Celta to test out their strength against a team that they should at least try to compete with if they're going to stay in first division.

Pick: 1-1.

Real Betis vs. Espanyol

(20:00 CET, 2:00 PM EST)

Getting better: Betis-Espanyol is a solid game between two teams that are fun to watch. I'm always interested in Espanyol, and even more so in the last few months. They're one of these perpetually fringe-y good teams that you always think could make a move. Watch and wait.

Pick: 1-2 to Espanyol.

Barcelona vs. Granada

(22:00 CET, 4:00 PM EST)

Ah. Ha. Oh man. Yeah. If Messi starts he'll score a few; if he doesn't, he'll still probably score a few. Granada's not a bad team, and they know how to battle. But this is the big leagues.

Pick: 4-1 to Barcelona.

Sunday, September 23

Mallorca vs. Valencia

(12:00 CET, 6:00 AM EST)

Last week, we had an epic, epic morning game. Let's hope we get the same this weekend.

Pick: 1-1. Not buying.

Levante vs. Real Sociedad

(16:00 CET, 10:00 AM EST)

"Hey, Obafemi Martins just signed for Levante. That's cool." Said no one.

Pick: 1-1.

Atlético Madrid vs. Valladolid

(18:00 CET, 12:00 PM EST)

Is it possible that Atleti are really, finally, truly delivering on their promise? I mean, Radamel Falcao is pretty much God. But, dang, this team doesn't look bad.

Pick: 1-0.

Athletic Bilbao vs. Málaga

(19:50 CET, 1:50 PM EST)

Getting Fernando Llorente back was a great first step for los leones, but it's not fixing their long-term problems. They're hemorrhaging right now, and someone needs to help them out. I don't think Malaga is going to oblige.

Pick: 2-3.

Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Madrid

(21:30 CET, 3:30 PM EST)

Last time Real Madrid played in Vallecas, they escaped by the skin of their teeth. Which makes almost no sense, when you realize that teeth don't have skin. Who came up with that metaphor? Like, I get it--it means barely or small, but still. Anyways, Madrid last lost to Rayo in 1996-1997. Which might be the last time Rayo was in Primera since last year (made up promotions burn).

Pick: 1-2 to Atleti.

Monday, September 24

Deportivo La Coruña vs. Sevilla

(21:30 CET, 3:30 PM EST)

It's always cool to see Depor playing again. Reminds me of Roy Makaay. Remember him? Yeah, he was good.

Pick: 0-1 to Sevilla.

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