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La Liga 2012, Week 11 preview and fixtures: Real Madrid take on the Great Wall of Levante

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Last year, Real Madrid lost a (relatively) shocking 1-0 dustup against a battle-hardened Levante side in Valencia. This year, los blancos head into their matchup with the defensive warriors lead by coaching sensation Juan Ignacio Martínez on the ropes. Will José Mourinho and company be able to tear down the Levante wall?

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Last season, Levante pulled off one of the shockers of the year by upsetting Real Madrid in Valencia 1-0. It was a game where the Levante defense and coach Juan Ignacio Martínez made Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil and company look positively toothless. Mourinho's men couldn't get past JIM's wall, and wasted possession after possession in agony-inducing impotence. It was quite a sight.

Now los blancos travel back to Valencia in trouble--down substantially in the horse-race with Barcelona, and they cannot afford another slip-up. Whether Cristiano Ronaldo and company are able to tear down the Levante wall will tell us a lot about their future in this edition of the Liga.

Friday, November 9

Real Betis vs. Granada

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

Yes, it's still too early to draw an real conclusions about where these teams will end up in the final Liga tally--just look at where everyone was last year at this point. But, despite how fun it has been to watch Betis at times, I don't think it's crazy to say that both of these sides will be happy to escape relegation this season.

Pick: 2-1 to Betis.

Saturday, November 10

Rayo Vallecano vs. Celta

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

I'm just not sure what to make of either of these teams; but, honestly, I don't know that much about soccer. I'm actually an alien. And a tired law student with much less time than I wish I had. And I'm also Harry Potter.

Pick: 0-0.

Espanyol vs. Osasuna

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

Espanyol seems to be a chronically underperforming side. It's sad--I do think that their talent level should put them somewhere near the top seven, but they are chronically around 12 or so. Osasuna, on the other hand, seems to over-perform their talent level--just look at last season.

Pick: 2-2.

Zaragoza vs. Deportivo

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

"An exciting match between two teams that were really fun to watch in the early 2000's and late 1990's." I wrote this last week about Celta-Depor, but I think it more or less applies here, too.

Pick: 0-0.

Malaga vs. Real Sociedad

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

Málaga's week day Champions League draw against Milan reinforced my belief that this team is real, and that they're not going away anytime soon; of course, this could easily be their peak and they might be over-performing. But I'm sticking with the other version of the narrative until they prove me wrong.

Pick: 2-0 to Málaga.

Sunday, November 11

Valladolid vs. Valencia

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

This is going to be a very underrated match, but it's definitely one I'd watch if it wasn't at 6 AM on the East Coast. Valladolid are a team I've been in favor of all year, and Valencia will have their hands full, I think.

Pick: 1-2 to Valencia.

Athletic Bilbao vs. Sevilla

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

Last year, or maybe even the year before, this might have been the game of the week. But with both sides still looking to regain their form--Sevilla is on the better track right now--I'm not so sure.

Pick: 1-2 to Sevilla.

Mallorca vs. FC Barcelona

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

The only thing preventing me from picking a 9-goal Barça win is the fact that Pep's boys looked so impotent against Celtic in the Champions League. It's making me wonder whether they're about to slump--something they've been known to do.

Pick: 1-2 to Barça.

Atlético Madrid vs. Getafe

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

I'm not getting off the Atleti bus until someone throws me. They won't finish second this year. But they will finish in the Champions League places.

Pick: 2-0 to Atleti.

Levante vs. Real Madrid

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

This isn't it for Madrid...but it's kind of it. I know that doesn't make sense. So sue me. The basic idea is that a Madrid victory--if Levante come to play like they did last year--would signal that the team might have the heart to battle back. A Levante win or draw would be devastating to Madrid. It would also be indicative of a lack of gumption on the part of this Madrid that could lead them to title-less obscurity.

Watch and wait.

Pick: 1-2 to Madrid.