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Soccernet Quiniela - Week 5 - News storm

What a loaded week! In just five days, La Liga presented us with managers being fired, managers being hired, a Golden Boot trophy winner, the surprising dismissal of a club President and the shocking realisation that a €96 million player can also feel anxiety. We need to understand how this news storm impacts our bets. With no further ado, let's start.

As usual, it's '1' for a home win, 'X' for a draw and '2' for an away win.

1. Zaragoza (20th) - Sporting de Gijón (17th): X.

The weekend opener is a top-class encounter. Ok, ok, not really. Bottom of the table Zaragoza haven't been able to score for three consecutive matches, since Malaga defeated them 5-3 at La Romareda. Their lack of offensive talent was apparent at the Calderon last weekend, when they failed to create a single chance to draw the match despite having played against a ten-man Atletico Madrid for a good half hour. On top of that, under-fire coach Jose Aurelio Gay will miss three starters: keeper Leo Franco, midfielder Edmilson and defender Jarosik, all of them injured.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity for fellow strugglers Sporting to get a result away from El Molinon, only the sportinguistas can't hide their own scoring vows: no goals in two trips. Can you feel the dizzying smell of stalemate coming your way?

2. Real Sociedad (16th) - Espanyol (6th): 1.

Things get warmer here, a bit emotional even, as Raul Tamudo plays against his lifelong team, Espanyol. The skilled striker spent 14 seasons and scored 129 goals for Espanyol, but now this cruel job demands him to apply that same medicine on his beloved periquitos to help Real Sociedad. The home team desperately need a result after three consecutive defeats, or else Phil Ball will have to start using the word 'crisis' when referring to los donostiarras.

Espanyol just renewed manager Mauricio Pochettino's contract until 2012. His tenure so far has been characterised by his ability to run a tight ship, bravely defending home-field advantage and very rarely getting points away from home. Therefore, he'll probably wait until their next match at Cornella to celebrate his new contract with a victory.

3. Valencia (1st) - Athletic de Bilbao (9th): X.

One of the most interesting subplots at these early stages of the calendar: Are Valencia for real? On Wednesday, they suffered their first defeat of the season at home, at the cruel hands of Manchester United, in a match in which Los Che deserved more. Despite their slip up, the squad looked consistent enough against a top-class rival, but they'll have to learn how to finish off matches against serious opposition. And I still have my doubts about Unai Emery's ability to run the show under pressure.

On Sunday they'll host a hungry, rested and undefeated - in their two trips so far - Athletic at Mestalla. Serious enough opposition indeed. Valencia will drop two points, therefore losing the top spot.

4. Sevilla (7th) - Atlético de Madrid (5th): 1.

Ladies and gentlemen, phenomenal news: the great Gregorio Manzano is back! El professor accepted Sevilla's offer, and will therefore manage the most talented group of players he's ever had.

Until now, Mr Manzano made a habit of turning average teams into extremely sound squads, with an added bonus that some of the players that shined under him were never as effective under others. Even though he coached Atletico Madrid seven seasons ago, the current Sevilla squad are indeed superior. He's got a great chance to test his own ceiling.

The team gave him a warm welcome, showing no love lost for the lean, Quixotic figure of cousin Antonio. His positive start with a 1-0 away win at Dortmund for the Europa League will help Manzano to get the full support of the Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday, a comforting feeling for the Sevilla players after a convoluted six months.

Despite the return of classy full-back Filipe Luis, Atletico have noticeably decreased their rhythm. With Kun Aguero still injured, Diego Forlan thinking of the FIFA Player of the Year award, and manager Quique Sanchez rotating players right, left and centre, the rojiblancos lost some of their killer instinct. They should be easy prey for this new Sevilla.

5. Getafe (10th) - Hercules (8th): 2.

I can't get figure out Getafe. They've been awfully inconsistent so far, as their lacklustre Europa League display against Young Boys proved on Thursday night. The fact is, they've played two consecutive away matches and we already know what that means with the middle class teams: letdown game.

My friend and Real Madrid supporter, Jesus, keeps asking me the following question: 'Would Hercules be interested in trading David Trezeguet for Gonzalo Higuain?' Answers in the comments section, please.

6. Villarreal (2nd) - Racing de Santander (15th): 1.

Villarreal have decided to play football, which can't be bad news. Four consecutive wins, Rossi and Nilmar on target, Santi Cazorla looking like his old self, and even the surprising Ecuadorian Jefferson Montero making an impressive cameo against Brugge. They could finish the weekend at the top of the table.

7. Almería (13th) - Malaga (12th): 2.

Malaga will satisfy all your scoring desires. In five matches, they have 11 goals to their name, and have suffered another 11. This guarantees over four celebrations per match, a great average regardless whether you root for or against them.

Los malacitanos are only dangerous away from their La Rosaleda stadium, while their hosts on Sunday haven't won at home yet. Lillo's Almeria have started to suffer from the same syndrome that Sevilla experienced under Alvarez: when the manager's decisions are questioned non-stop, there can't be a worse place to play your matches than your own stadium. We'll witness another instance of this unwritten rule on Sunday evening.

8. Osasuna (14th) - Levante (18th): 1.

If you had to give your opinion on Osasuna's shape just by listening to their players and manager, you would say they're leading the league. ''Our team played great'', Camacho said after their defeat at Cornella. ''We all have great vibes about this season,'' said player Josetxo during the week.

Well, at the 14th spot things are far from ideal, but los navarros still know how to fight for three points at home. Despite their recent improvement, Levante should help them to keep all that good stuff going on in their dressing room.

9. Barcelona (3rd) - Mallorca (11th): 1.

What are the chances of Mallorca pulling a Hercules on us and getting a positive result at the Camp Nou? Slim, very slim. Slim as in Kate Moss slim.

Los mallorquines have been defeated twice in two away matches this season, and it took them seven months to win their first away from Son Moix last year. Their record at the cules' stadium: won three, drawn six, lost 15. And to add insult to a lighter than expected injury, Golden Boot winner Lionel Messi played half an hour against Barcelona's bogey team, Rubin Kazan, and looked totally recovered from Tomas Ujfalusi's tackle.

And if you thought Mallorca's struggle to recover from their financial trouble was enough off the pitch distraction for the squad, their President, Josep Pons, was fired this week as the Board 'lost their trust' in him. The reason? A sexual harassment lawsuit from a former employee at the Spanish embassy in Austria, where Senor Pons was Ambassador.

10. Real Madrid (4th) - Deportivo de La Coruña (19th): 1.

Some say 'numbers don't lie', while others believe statistics to be the best way to misrepresent facts. Judge for yourself: Real Madrid have shot 159 times, scoring only nine in their seven official matches this season - numbers courtesy of Marca. It took the €96 million Cristiano Ronaldo 58 attempts to score only once, and it was from the penalty spot. On Tuesday, the Portuguese star left Auxerre's stadium quite frustrated: ''Anxiety, [insert expletive]-ing anxiety. I don't want to talk'', he mumbled to the media.

But while it seems safe to say that Real Madrid are undergoing a scoring slump, the ironic thing is, poor Deportivo would kill for those numbers. The coruneses haven't managed to score in four of their five matches so far, hardly the best circumstances to revive the Centenariazo at the Bernabeu…

Use this easy 'Copy and Paste' summary to write your own Quiniela and share it with us in the 'Comments' section.

1. Zaragoza (20th) - Sporting de Gijón (17th): X.
2. Real Sociedad (16th) - Espanyol (6th): 1.
3. Valencia (1st) - Athletic de Bilbao (9th): X.
4. Sevilla (7th) - Atlético de Madrid (5th): 1.
5. Getafe (10th) - Hércules (8th): 2.
6. Villarreal (2nd) - Racing de Santander (15th): 1.
7. Almería (13th) - Malaga (12th): 2.
8. Osasuna (14th) - Levante (18th): 1.
9. Barcelona (3rd) - Mallorca (11th): 1.
10. Real Madrid (4th) - Deportivo de La Coruña (19th): 1.


Last week: 5/10 (50%)
Season: 21/40 (52%)

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