Real MadridIn what may have been a big middle finger to all the critics, JosÃÂ© Mourinho switched from fielding nearly every available defensive player - as he did against Barcelona - to playing almost every attacking footballer, with Karim Benzema, Mesut ÃÂzil, KakÃÂ¡, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and even Esteban Granero starting SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs game.Although the side was a little overrun by a feisty Athletic Bilbao in the first half, when the team clicked in the gear in the second - thanks to a penalty for Cristiano Ronaldo - Madrid looked more than decent. This approach still may not have been enough to beat Barcelona but it certainly calmed down some critics in the press. Ã¢ÂÂWhy didnÃ¢ÂÂt you put a team like this out against BarÃÂ§a? Why?Ã¢ÂÂ was the plea to Mourinho from TomÃÂ¡s Roncero.
Leo MessiJust brilliant. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the most original comment the blog can come up with for MessiÃ¢ÂÂs hat-trick against MÃÂ¡laga on Sunday evening, the forwardÃ¢ÂÂs 14th for the Catalan club, equalling a BarÃÂ§a record. It was an all round splendid display from Barcelona in MÃÂ¡laga - bar a wobbly start - in match LLL thought PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys would drop points like the care-free mavericks they've been of late. But the 90 minutes was miles away from some of the lethargic displays put on by the club away from home in la Liga this season.
LevanteA goalless draw with Zaragoza where absolutely nothing happened by all accounts, but another point eked out by Levante, a side who are now counting down the points until they reach 43. That means four wins left over the entire second half of the season. Quite doable really.
EspanyolDoes Espanyol sitting plump and pretty in fifth make Paul from Barcelona a happy puppy on Monday? Nope. Of course not, hereÃ¢ÂÂs grumpy chops and here is his opinion on SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 3-0 win over Granada...Ã¢ÂÂThey say there are no easy games in football. Well, someone should tell Granada. Ye gods they are not any good. Probably the worst Primera team since Extremadura. A stroll for Espanyol who didn't need to get out of second gear to win by three goals, all this despite Thievey playing. Baena, VerdÃÂº (penalty, and it was) and Rui Fonte scored and it could have been more.Granada also had this moron called Jara who came on with the sole intention of breaking someoneÃ¢ÂÂs leg. Get this idiot out of football. Ref was ok despite not dishing out a red (see above) and a crumb of comfort for Granada - excellent fans, over a 100 and vocal. Hats off to them. Hope they stay up despite that prat Jara. They deserve it - the fans not the players.Ã¢ÂÂPaul, Barcelona
FalcaoPrior to new AtlÃÂ©tico coach Diego SimeoneÃ¢ÂÂs arrival, lazy-boned forward Falcao wasn't exactly in the blogÃ¢ÂÂs good books. But five goals in two games - including three against Real Sociedad - see the Colombian move on to 14 strikes for the season, the best first half of a season for a Rojiblancos striker since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the 1999/00 campaign.While the improved form of the expensive Falcao is clearly a boost to AtlÃÂ©tico, the fact that the side has yet to concede under Simeone in the three games in charge for the Argentinean, is considerably more telling.
Betis & SevillaA generous and tremendously condescending LLL is putting both teams into the good day section due to the positive, hippy vibes created around what used to be a really nasty derby, and for a cracking game of football which ended 1-1.
Alvaro NegredoThe Vallecas manÃ¢ÂÂs equalising effort in the aforementioned fun-fest was the strikerÃ¢ÂÂs first since the 17th December against Real Madrid.
Jaime GavilÃÂ¡nAfter a bit of a Ã¢ÂÂmehÃ¢ÂÂ first third of the season, Getafe are now plodding along nicely under the ever chirpy Luis GarcÃÂa, unbeaten in five with three wins, all of them by the odd goal. That was the case on Saturday with a 2-1 victory at Racing, a win kicked off by an equalising goal from winger, Jaime GavilÃÂ¡n who was making his first start since March 2011 after a couple of serious injuries.
JosÃÂ© MourinhoItÃ¢ÂÂs all going a bit pear-shaped for the Madrid manager, despite Mourinho giving his team the best first half to a season in terms of points and goals in the clubÃ¢ÂÂs history. First the press turned on the manager - with Mourinho taking a hammering after WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs latest ClÃÂ¡sico catastrophe - then the players, at least according to Marca, who on Sunday wrote of a big split between the coach and the senior Spanish contingent. The Athletic Bilbao match saw dissent within the fans with MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs being booed on three separate occasions when the clubÃ¢ÂÂs Ultras sang his support. Ã¢ÂÂI didnÃ¢ÂÂt ask to come here, it was Madrid who asked me,Ã¢ÂÂ was MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs non-plussed response after the match.
Osasuna & ValenciaBoth in the dog house for boring the trousers off LLL in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs midday kick-off which put the blog in a somnambulant mood for the rest of the day. The only action that took place in the game came in the final few minutes when Roberto Soldado looked like he had given Valencia their first league win of the year, David Albelda saw red for a horrendous challenge and Lolo scrambled a very Osasuna equalising effort in injury time.
MÃÂ¡laga Ã¢ÂÂMore effort, more concentrationÃ¢ÂÂ was Manuel PellegriniÃ¢ÂÂs assessment on his sideÃ¢ÂÂs performance in the 4-1 defeat to Barcelona, where the home team only turned up for the opening few minutes and to force good saves out of VÃÂctor ValdÃÂ©s. MÃÂ¡laga have now slipped back to tenth place, are without a win in six and that must be putting Manuel Pellegrini and his project under pressure despite constant claims of patience.
Rayo VallecanoWhen Rayo spurned three or four good chances in the first half of their clash with Mallorca, LLL watching in the stands sensed that something nasty was waiting around the corner in a game they really needed to win. That nastiness came a few minutes into the second half with a header from IvÃÂ¡n Ramis - but not once did the supporters stop singing in Vallecas despite the defeat.
Racing SantanderA first defeat for Ã¢ÂÂThe TrioÃ¢ÂÂ managing Racing after three wins and two draws since taking over from HÃÂ©ctor CÃÂºper.
FabriGranda arenÃ¢ÂÂt even in the relegation zone, but that hasnÃ¢ÂÂt stopped club president Quique Pina having a wobbly moment by sacking Fabri after three straight defeats, and just one victory in six. In doing so, the club parts company with the manager who gave the team back-to-back promotions from the Segunda B to the Primera. Which is a bit sad really.