Friday, 2 December 2011

Jornada 15 preview: Barcelona v Levante, Gijon v Madrid... and the rest

Bit gutted as my predictions calculations are missing this week. I ran them this morning but I have failed to get the appropriate JPG. What I can tell you is that the most likely results (from my memory mind) were:

Barca 2-0 Levante
Gijon 0-3 Real Madrid
Valencia 1-0 Espanyol
Racing 0-0 Villarreal
Atletico 1-0 Vallecano
Sociedad 0-0 Villarreal
Osasuna 1-0 Betis
Granada 1-0 Zaragoza
Mallorca 0-1 Bilbao
Sevilla 1-0 Getafe

All about the Classico now. "But the classico's not til next weekend" I hear you say. "But we have to bang on about it at every given opportunity. Work it in where you can. Classico Classico Classico"
Well, Barca are in dissaray. They are a massive 3 POINTS off the pace
after being ruthlessly battered 1-0 at Getafe last week while Real
Madrid mauled Atletico 4-1. Pep obviously has his mind elsewhere -
Chelsea probably, and Mourinho is king. the title race may as well be
over. Forget that Barca have won every home game in La Liga, averaging
4 goals a game without conceding one.

This week Barca host last month's flavour of the month (?) Levante.
Fourth placed Levante are just 5 points behind Barca but have
a formidable task ahead of them. However, the forgotten table toppers
Levante can boast that they are the only side to have beaten current
leaders Real Madrid this season. Barca could boast that they beat Rayo
Vallecano 4-0 in midweek but no one would listen. Levante also scored
a thumping 4-0 victoryover Gijon last week and likes of Aruna Kone and top-scorer Juanlu will need to maintain their excellent form if they have any
hope of taking anything from the game.

They must also summon the spirit of Nelson Valdez if they are to "do a Hercules" at Camp Nou.
Barcelona are full strength apart from wing back Adriano who has
picked up a thigh strain.
Barcelona are hot favourites for the home win and need the win ahead
of next week's Classico. Ones to watch: Messi,
Alexis Sanchez, Fabregas and Iniesta

Sporting Gijon v Real Madrid, 17.00
In the early kick off, the sensible money will be on Real Madrid
reasserting their 6 point lead at the top this weekend - vital
psychological advantage ahead of the El Classicoooooo. Real will be
without Ricardo Carvalho and the suspended Xabi Alonso as they look to
extend their thirteen match winning run. Alonso has been an integral
part of Mourinho’s line-up since he fled Liverpoo to play for a team
who might actually win things one day. The Special One has
several options to replace Alonso: tiny summer signing Nuri Sahin;
flaky youth Esteban Granero; or pompous wild man Lass Diarra. Who will
partner German tiger Sami Khedeira in this tricky away tie for the
league leaders.

Despite lying 18th, Gijon can delude themselves that they are more
than capable of causing an upset
having beaten Real at the Bernabeau only in April. Christiano Ronaldo
is a doubt with an ankle sprain picked up in the Madrid derby last
weekend, but should play despite having missed training earlier this
week. With 5 goals in 12 games this season, former Real Madrid trainee
David "the barrel" Barral carries the main threat for an otherwise
rather insipid
Gijon side.

No upset for Gijon this time. Madrid will coast to their fourteenth
win in a row. Ones to watch: Benzema and Ronaldo.

Valencia v Espanyol
If it’s guaranteed wins you’re interested in, look no further than
Valencia at home to Espanyol. The Andalucians have won 3 of their last
four and need to maintain their excellent run with Levante hot on
their heels. Valencia are still without long term absentees Sergio
Canales and Even Banega in midfield but Tino Costa and Sofiane
Feghouli have stepped up to the plate in their absence and have put in
some excellent displays in the centre of the park. Brazilian forward
Jonas scored his first of the season in La Liga last week and looks to
be coming into some form. While, still in the top half of the table,
Espanyol have been inconsistent of late and suffered a shock home loss
to Osasuna last week. While Christian Alvarez has put in some great
displays between the posts this season, Catalunia’s “other” side are
struggling for goals.
Home win: ones to watch: Soldado, Tino, Jonas, Diego Alves

Racing Santander vs Villarreal
Saturday’s fourth fixture looks likely to be terribly dull affair.
Racing Santander have lost Hector Cuper and Villarreal have lost their
identity. A great chance for the Yellow Submarine to grab a morale
boosting win but a low/no score draw seems more likely.

Atletico Madrid v Rayo Vallecano
Despite their woeful away record, Atletico are excellent at home. Will
they be buoyed or exhausted from their midweek Europa Cup victory at
Celtic? Falcao is back, but Adrian has more than made a case for
keeping his place ahead of the record signing. Vallecano are very much
capable of causing an upset.
Home win: Assenjo, Diego, Falcao

Sevilla v Getafe
Sevilla ground out a vital 1-0 win at Zaragoza last week. Despite
Getafe’s heroics against Barca, they still stink away from home.
Sevilla should build with another win.
Home win: Varas, Negredo, Rakitic, Trochowski

Granada will be favourites to beat Zaragoza, especially following
their surprise defeat of Atletico Bilbao last week. Their impressive
defence will need to keep a close eye on Zaragoza’s Helder Postiga.
Osasuna host Betis and are favourites to build on a good run of form.
Alvaro Cejudo, Raul Garcia and Nino can all be expected to do well.
Sociedad v Malaga is an awkward one to call and a draw seems the most
likely result. Finally, Bilbao must bounce back from the shock loss to
Granada and take the win at Mallorca.

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