FourFourTwo.com's man in Spain, Tim Stannard, on the best and the worst of the weekend's la Primera action...
Leo MessiBarely eight minutes after coming onto the pitch, little Leo popped up with a Playstation effort, shimmying and shammying through the Athletic defence before placing an exquisite shot to temporarily put BarÃÂ§a into the lead. Ã¢ÂÂMessi is the best in the world, and clearly when we donÃ¢ÂÂt have him, we miss him,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted Jordi Roura.
Real MadridA run of 25 matches and nearly 15 years without losing to AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid is an incredible record. A ridiculous one, in fact. Of course, Real MadridÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂreservesÃ¢ÂÂ are still going to be pretty good, as some AtlÃÂ©tico MadridÃ¢ÂÂs players pointed out, but a left flank consisting of Nacho and Alvaro Morata should have been beatable. Ã¢ÂÂOn Saturday, they both played badly, so Madrid won. If they had both played well, Madrid would have won,Ã¢ÂÂ wrote Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o in AS after an unexpectedly rotten match with an expected result.
Real SociedadA magnificent Sunday night game against Valencia brought another stunning performance from Real Sociedad. This, in turn, led to a feisty 4-2 victory which extended their unbeaten run to 15 games. The huge win over direct Champions League rivals gives la Real a five point lead over MÃÂ¡laga in fifth and Valencia and six, with 15 points left to play for. Ã¢ÂÂWe have a great advantage with 50 metres left,Ã¢ÂÂ revealed la Real boss, Philippe Montanier.
MÃÂ¡lagaA handy, no nonsense 2-1 win at home to Getafe keeps the side in the chase for a European spot, should the clubÃ¢ÂÂs current one year ban be overturned on appeal. Ã¢ÂÂIt would be a great achievement to be in the Europa League for the effort weÃ¢ÂÂve made,Ã¢ÂÂ said a proud Manuel Pellegrini.
BukanerosWhile most fans who complain about kick-off times, prices and other such footballing gripes still stand and support their team regardless, RayoÃ¢ÂÂs Ultras do things properly. When the Bukaneros arenÃ¢ÂÂt happy about a Friday or Monday night kick-off (the former being the issue this week in a 2-2 draw with Osasuna) then they vacate their spot in the stadium, to leave a giant gaping hole. At the front of an enormous space on the terraces in Vallecas, a big banner read Ã¢ÂÂNo to Football on Friday.Ã¢ÂÂ
ValladolidLa Liga Loca feels 39 points is enough to keep a team up this season, so ValladolidÃ¢ÂÂs draw with Sevilla was a pretty big result, given it moved them to 40 points with five matches left to play.
Ander HerreraThereÃ¢ÂÂs still some battling spirit left at Athletic Bilbao, with the feisty midfielder popping up in the 89th minute to earn a 2-2 draw against the Champions elect. The players Ã¢ÂÂdeserved something more than a dignified defeat,Ã¢ÂÂ announced Marcelo Bielsa.
OsasunaÃ¢ÂÂA good point, a tough game and hard-fought,Ã¢ÂÂ was the opinion of Osasuna boss, JosÃÂ© Luis Mendilibar, after the 2-2 draw with Rayo that gives a kick start to the Pamplona motor after three matches without a goal. The Osasuna efforts in this match were old-school - two headers from corners.
GranadaFinally, a win for Granada after nine matches without a victory, and a continuation of the good form shown in last weekÃ¢ÂÂs draw with Valladolid. Ã¢ÂÂThere are teams who are going to be in a Ã¢ÂÂnothing zoneÃ¢ÂÂ and this could be beneficial to those who play them. These types of teams will be the judges of the competition,Ã¢ÂÂ mused Granada boss, Lucas Alcaraz.
Celta VigoTwo wins in two matches for a struggling Celta have certainly seen the Galicians perk up a little. However, SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 win could not have been any easier against a completely lame Levante.
Real ZaragozaWell, that was epic. After a run of 15 matches without a win, Zaragoza finally picked up a victory in a la Romareda humdinger against relegation rivals Mallorca. The lead switched sides throughout the match, but it was RubÃÂ©n Rochina that popped up with a winner in the 3-2 victory just two minutes from time. Ã¢ÂÂThe dressing room has an incredible human quality,Ã¢ÂÂ beamed a relieved Zaragoza boss, Manolo JimÃÂ©nez. Zaragoza are still second-from-bottom of the table but a winÃ¢ÂÂs a winÃ¢ÂÂs a win.
Diego SimeoneThe AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid boss looked really, really, really, really, really fed up after his side completely surrendered against Real Madrid, who might as well have rolled onto the pitch wearing Ã¢ÂÂKick me!Ã¢ÂÂ signs. Oh, he was fed up. In fact, he was smiling, laughing, hand-rubbing and extremely amiable after the game, in the manner of someone who was about to lose it completely. However, Simeone still seemed to think the Rojiblancos have a chance in the biggest meeting of the season between the two teams, the upcoming Copa del Rey final. Ã¢ÂÂVery few people think this will happen, but itÃ¢ÂÂs better that way,Ã¢ÂÂ said Simeone.
ValenciaThe 4-2 defeat to Real Sociedad that leaves the Mestalla club five points behind Real Sociedad - and with a worse goal difference - could be very costly for Valencia in terms of losing Champions League revenue. Roberto SoldadoÃ¢ÂÂs sale, a player with 18 league goals this season, would surely be on the cards.
SevillaStill Sevilla, still useless away from home. The 1-1 at Valladolid keeps up a record for the Andalusian club of one victory from 17 trips in la Liga. Still, thereÃ¢ÂÂs still hope for some kind of success this season says a chirpy Unai Emery. Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂve not been at the level that weÃ¢ÂÂve had at home, but we are two wins away from Europe.Ã¢ÂÂ
EspanyolÃ¢ÂÂIf we want to get into Europe, we need to do it, not talk about it,Ã¢ÂÂ announced Javier Aguirre after the 1-0 home defeat to Granada.
LevanteAnother veeeeeery flat home performance against a relegation team with a lot of incentive to pick up a victory. Two weeks ago, Deportivo came along and got a 4-0 win, and this weekend it was Celta Vigo who picked up a win to give the Galicians back-to-back victories. Levante were also charitable enough to miss a penalty. Ã¢ÂÂThe facts are that we lost at home against two teams in the relegation zone,Ã¢ÂÂ said a somewhat miffed and disappointed Celta boss, Juan Ignacio MartÃÂnez, Ã¢ÂÂwhen a professional goes out onto the pitch, he wants to win.Ã¢ÂÂ Mallorca and Zaragoza are next up, so letÃ¢ÂÂs see how giving Levante are over the weeks to come.
MallorcaÃ¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs a step back,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted Mallorca boss Gregorio Manzano after the defeat to Zaragoza which left the Balearic club bottom of the table. Things are looking better for next weekend though, with Levante heading to town.