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La Liga 2012, Week 12 preview and fixtures: Lions in the Bernabéu; Derby in Sevilla

Fernando Llorente and Athletic Bilbao take on Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu this weekend; but this weekend, we'll see a very, very different side to Llorente--a caged lion. He'll be on the sidelines, patiently waiting to see which major team wants to scoop up his free contract.

Denis Doyle

Fernando Llorente, whom I provisionally titled the "golden god" and "lion king" last year, will be on the bench this weekend when his Athletic Bilbao take the pitch against Real Madrid in the Bernabéu. No one is sure exactly where Llorente will be by this time next year--Juve are apparently bidders, as are Manchester United and City--but there's at least a small contingent of analysts who have him in white on the other side of the pitch.

Well, this week Madrid and Florentino Pérez will get a good, up-close look at the free-contract Spaniard. Will they really be able to resist that face this summer?

Saturday, November 17

Osasuna vs. Málaga

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

Málaga lost last weekend to Real Sociedad at home in a very unspectacular game; Osasuna won comfortable against Espanyol 0-3. I was wrong on both fronts. Let's see if I'm just as wrong this week.

Pick: 1-1.

Valencia vs. Espanyol

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

This should be an exciting, open game, if both teams show up; but with two sides that have a tendency to disappear at seemingly random moments, it would not shock me if this ended up as a boring one.

Pick: 2-1 to Valencia.

Barcelona vs. Zaragoza

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

This week is an all-eyes-on-Madrid type fixture--Barça should have this one locked up within 20 minutes.

Pick: 5-1 to Barça.

Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao

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

It's really unclear to me whether this Athletic team has any potential this season--it might be time to think about rebuilding, reloading, and poaching younger talent. It's equally possible that they're gearing up for a run later in the year...but with Llorente riding the pine and Javi Martínez happily ensconced in Germany, it seems unlikely. But hey, they won their first home game in a while last weekend against Sevilla. So you never know.

Pick: 2-0 to Real Madrid.

Sunday, November 18

Deportivo vs. Levante

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

I can only imagine it's getting pretty brisk in A Coruña around this time of year...and not just the temperature. It's time for Depor to begin to step it up if they want to stick around past this season. (Although if they just give me more 5-3 losses, I'd be fine).

Pick: 1-2 to Levante.

Celta vs. Mallorca

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

I'm taking Mallorca here, but, honestly, I'm not sure--I'm just not sold on Celta, I guess. As most of these are gut calls, I guess I can just pull a George W. Bush on this one.

Pick: 1-2 to Mallorca.

Getafe vs. Valladolid

(17:50 CET, 11:50 AM EST)

So MARCA had a spread on a well-known porn star's visit to Getafe this week. And they publicized that interview quite a bit more than they publicized anything going on with the team. So yeah.

Pick: 1-1.

Granada vs. Atlético Madrid

(19:40 CET, 1:50 PM EST)

Someone, please pull me off the Atlético Madrid bus! Please! It's just...too weird to be up on this thing.

Pick: 1-3 to Atleti.

Sevilla vs. Real Betis

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

Now this is a game. The Sevilla derby: underrated, and highly violent. Betis has been a legitimate side this season, picking off strong team after strong team with a real precision. And Sevilla has been, well, not great, but I guess we expect more out of them? Whatever happens, this game will probably be violent; if not on the pitch then in the stands.

Watch and wait.

Pick: 1-2 to Betis.

Monday, November 19

Real Sociedad vs. Rayo Vallecano

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

Two overperforming sides; only one can win. Well I guess they can draw. But yeah, these guys are over performing--Rayo, especially, is sitting in seventh place right now. They're both good enough to stay up, don't get me wrong; I just see them as sitting on the wrong side of 12th place (which is where la Real is now, I guess).

Pick: 1-1.