FFT's Spanish expert, Tim Stannard, runs the rule over the latest weekend of La Liga action...
Real Betis are architects of their own destruction
This was painful to watch. Real Betis had the foundations for a revival after their 1-0 midweek win against Athletic in the cup, but proceeded to dig them up good n' proper with a 2-1 home defeat against Osasuna - not normally the most stubborn of visitors. Betis helped Sunday’s opponents on their way to three points, though, with a 38th-minute red card for the aptly named Nono, an own goal and a missed penalty from Rubén Castro. Eurgh.
Paco Jémez's tough talking pays off for Rayo Vallecano
A 5-2 home defeat to Villarreal and goalless draw against Levante in Vallecas had Rayo manager Jémez publicly fuming at his players for their all-too-regular blunders. His rough words seemed to do the trick, however, with Rayo digging out a win in the Coliseum against Getafe. “Victories always feel good, especially in the situation we are in, which is the relegation zone,” chirped Jémez, whose men are now back in his good books.
Valladolid already look doomed... doomed!
Valladolid. Valladolid, Valladolid. Normally, just reading ‘Valladolid’ sends 97 per cent of readers off to the next paragraph. Writing it twice more takes care of another two per cent. This leaves a hardcore minority that is no doubt already very aware that the team’s crumpet is buttered, with relegation seemingly inevitable after Friday night’s 4-0 defeat at Granada.
The loss leaves them second from bottom with just the single victory in nine league games. “We cannot have two faces, one at home and one on the road,” was the complaint from Pucela boss Juan Ignacio Martínez.
Celta finally rewarded for positive philosophy
Celta Vigo continue to play tasty, attractive football, but keep on losing games. Every now again, though, the sporting gods smile on the Galician battlers by throwing a win their way to relieve the pressure. Celta’s first victory in five came against visiting Valencia, in a 2-1 victory which saw a brace from Brazilian striker Charles. “This is the way to get away from the bottom of the table,” announced boss Luis Enrique.
Almería still have a true fighting spirit
The Andalusian side may have lost 6-1 to Athletic, but back-to-back victories before that left coach Francisco Rodriguez unfussed by the setback. “I’d prefer to lose one game 6-1 than three 2-0,” explained the manager.
Getafe are showing their true colours this season
A couple of matches ago, Luis García said that the results in upcoming games would define where his Getafe side would end up: namely Europe or 11th. But now even the latter is looking optimistic after a 1-0 home defeat to Rayo on a fog-filled pitch. “It’s bad that there is a feeling of negativity even though we are mid-table, mid-season,” noted the Getafe boss, who claimed that he doesn’t sense any negativity from his players.
Valencia felt the after-effects of facing Atlético
Picking up a 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid in a midweek cup clash at Mestalla was a fine result for Valencia considering the Rojiblancos' quality, but it came at a cost at the weekend as they faded in the second half of a 2-1 defeat at Celta. “We didn’t have the energy,” was the admission from Juan Pizzi, whose side now have to take on Atlético all over again during the week, this time at the Vicente Calderón.
Athletic had a proper footballing purge
The Basque club had a pleasing look on its collective face on Saturday afternoon. After losing their two previous matches in league and cup against Real Sociedad and Betis respectively, Athletic needed a huge performance in San Mamés, where they remain undefeated.
Fortunately a gung-ho Almería came along to lose 6-1 and show Athletic’s great strength this season: making up for a lack of strikers with the whole squad contributing up front. “It’s a super honourable team that runs from the first minute until the last,” was the effusive praise from boss Ernesto Valverde. Totes hugs.
Real Madrid still struggling to take the lead
Madrid may have pulled to within three points of the top two with a scrappy 1-0 win at Espanyol, but they really are grinding out less-than-convincing results at the moment. The victory against Celta Vigo on Monday was flattering and could have easily been something very different had the Galicians been able to finish.
Madrid struggled again to impose their will on a weakened Perico outfit on Sunday evening, with Ronaldo strangely off form. Still, Carlo Ancelotti was quite delighted with the victory on a ground where he knew the opposition would be stubborn and uncompromising.
Atlético and Barca combine for rare show of Spanish unity
Normally, La Liga's biggest and most important clash of the season is the Clásico, a match that kicks off all manners of moaning, conspiracy claims and general disagreement no matter what the result.
But the actual biggest clash of the La Liga season (to date, anyway) - Saturday’s game between Atlético Madrid and Barcelona - ended in a rather predictable draw and left both sides happy, as well as the press on both sides of the great divide.
“Everyone wins!” announced Marca. “Everyone is happy,” opined AS editor Alfredo Relaño, with Santi Nolla from the Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo declaring that a predictable script was followed. The 0-0 in the Vicente Calderón means the title will be decided in the less glamorous clashes to come.