Good Day, Bad Day: Conspiracies and understated celebrations

Hold onto your hats - it's Tim Stannard's whistle-stop round-up of the weekend's action from Spain...

Good Day

Pep Guardiola

Though the coach will have to repeat the “league is not won yet, the league is not won yet” mantra pretty much every minute of every day for the next two months, Pep and the Dream Boys know that the title was moreorless sewn up, thanks to Saturday's double delight of a defeat for Madrid and a win for Barça at Villarreal in a match where a draw probably would have been a fair result.

“Barça don’t fail at key moments,” wrote Josep María Casanovas in Sport. And the columnist was right. This season Barça have beaten Villarreal at home and away, and inflicted the same on Valencia. And there was, of course, the 5-0 victory over Madrid in the Camp Nou. Just one more win in the Bernabeu in a fortnight’s time will pretty much seal the deal.

Víctor Valdés

Three great saves against Villarreal have left the Catalan press calling for Mad Víctor to take Iker Casillas’s place in Spain’s starting XI.

Roberto Soldado

A tough day for the Valencia striker, who scored four at the ground of his former club, Getafe. On the pitch, it was an easy business for the footballer but what made life difficult for Soldado was having to do the ‘hey, I’ve scored but I’m going to do a very understated, it really hurt my heart to do so’ celebration on four separate occasions.

By the end of the game, the forward had the same an expression as a vet who had just put Míchel the Manager’s favourite puppy to sleep.


The Andalusians' steady but sneaky climb up the table continued thanks to a 3-1 win over Zaragoza that saw Gregorio Manzano’s men move into fifth, nine points behind Villarreal.

Diego Costa

The Atleti striker has spent much of the season looking a tad too chunky, diving and not scoring goals. But Costa doubled his league tally for the campaign with a hat-trick that gave the Rojiblancos a very unexpected - by this blog, at least - 3-2 win at Osasuna and moved Atlético to within a point of the European places.

A line-up which was without the suspended Kun Agüero and had Diego Forlán’s booty parked on the bench didn’t promise that much for the visitors - especially as Raúl García was playing too - but it paid off for Atleti with Costa’s first hat-trick for the club.

“No-one really has any clue about football,” sighed Iñako Díaz-Guerra on a sentiment very much shared by La Liga Loca.


Who needs Felipe Caicedo? Certainly not Levante when they have Uruguayan genius, Stuani, in their ranks to replace the club’s injured goalscoring talisman. Stuani popped up with two to defeat Málaga 3-1 and give Levante their seventh win in ten making the club from Valencia the third best in la Primera in the second half of the season. And suddenly now only four points from the European places too! Woot woot!


A team who were supposed to have given up in a game against Barcelona in October - according to José Mourinho, anyway - have done rather well against the Big Two this season, having taken four points from their four games against Barça and Madrid, conceding just three goals.

Sporting drew with Barcelona in El Molinón but topped that performance with a 1-0 win over Madrid in the Bernabeu - making them the first away team to have won there in nearly a year and the first side to stick one up Mourinho on his own patch in the league in 150 matches.

LLL is still not entirely sure how they managed it, but Madrid had been living dangerously at home in a number of encounters this season - such as Hércules, Mallorca, Valencia and Sevilla - with flat performances where a goal was expected by the home team rather than sought. Sporting took advantage on a night when the gods that usually watch over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu were presumably stuck in traffic.


A 2-1 win over Mallorca for Deportivo, but the blog finds it physically impossible to write anything nice about them. Even when they win. And score actual goals.

Royston Drenthe

The naughty Dutchman was sent home from training during the week by new Hércules coach, Miroslav Djukic, but found his way back into the Hércules good books by scoring three in Sunday’s 3-1 away win at Real Sociedad. However, it was Javier Portillo who caused the real shock of the day by a) scoring and b) scoring an away goal for Hércules, the team’s first in 1,113 minutes.

Bad Day

Real Madrid

The boxing ring of la Primera currently has more towels lying around than a 15 girl flat-share. Both Marca and AS have given up the title race with Marca’s front page on Sunday sobbing, “goodbye league, goodbye record”. The editorial in the following day’s edition is already in ‘move on’ mode with Marca penning an ode to the professionalism of Cristiano Ronaldo for his supposed insistence on playing Tuesday’s game against Spurs despite a leg injury.

AS are getting over a defeat that has left Barcelona eight points clear at the top of the table by blaming their longstanding conspiracy called ‘Villarato’ - named after the FA president, Angel Villar - a gentleman who apparently runs a campaign that orders referees to favour Barça over Madrid. And a gentleman who should probably sue, thinks La Liga Loca.

The paper’s latest grumble is that Gerard Piqué’s winning goal for Barça was handball and that Madrid should have had a number of penalties against Sporting -  making it nine owed to Madrid in 2011 - but the referees all have it in for the club, apparently.

“There no doping (at Barcelona) but there’s Villarato...Barça won’t win the league because of this, but it has widened the gap.” LLL senses that AS feel that if you can’t beat ‘em, then whine.


Oh dear. Yet another defeat for Espanyol - a home loss to Racing - sees that side coming dangerous close to slipping out of the European places. Paul from Barcelona was there to see it happen. And he’s not happy at all...

“Still not quite sure how Espanyol lost that. I remember in the 80s when there was a campaign to “kick the professional foul out of football”. Then in the 90s we saw the “tactical foul”. Well, welcome to the Brazil 1970 of tactical, niggling and professional fouls - Racing Santander.

"How they only got three yellows is beyond me. Don’t know what the record for number of fouls committed in a match is but Racing smashed that. Pedro Munitis alone should be contacted by Norris McWhirter in the morning for “managing to avoid a booking despite committing over 50 fouls”. A new record. (LLL - that might be a bit of a shock for Pedro as Norris departed this world in 2004).

"An Osvaldo penalty - a deliberate handball in the area is a red card, is it not? - gave Espanyol the lead at HT. Then two borderline offside goals, both from corners gave Racing three points they didn’t deserve. The next time Barça fans moan about “anti-football” because a team has out-thought them tactically then wait till Racing come to town and then you will really have something to moan about for once.

Paul, Barcelona"

Real Sociedad

Still six points from the drop zone but there is danger afoot for la Real who have lost five out of the club’s last six games.


Míchel the manager - or ‘soon to be ex-manager’ - at Getafe is certainly on the ball. After Saturday’s 2-4 home defeat to Valencia, Míchel admitted that the club’s situation “is beginning to get dangerous”. That’s a fine spot indeed, given Getafe have managed just one win in the past 14 league games.

The club’s problems are a defence that is making far too many silly mistakes and a complete lack of goals up front from Javier Arizmendi and co. It’s only Manu del Moral who has bagged five of Getafe’s last six goals that is keeping the side’s end up, as it were.