Good Day, Bad Day: Hair Trigger Soldado, Super Cesc and a Grinding Granada

Good Day

Angel di MaríaHe may something of a diving, face-clutching, faking little so-and-so, but he's still having an extraordinary campaign with Madrid. Saturday’s fairly routine 3-0 victory over Sporting was kicked off with a goal from the Argentinean after awful defending. Di María then popped up with an assist for Madrid’s second after another strike from Cristiano Ronaldo. “Many people didn’t understand why we bought di María,” Mourinho said after the game of a player who now has 10 assists in la Liga this season. “He came from Benfica after he didn’t have a good year and after a World Cup where he didn’t shine. But I knew this kid had a lot to offer.”

Cesc FabregasA brand new hair-do for the Dream Boys midfielder - LLL approves, incidentally - and another rampaging performance in a simple 5-0 win over Levante that saw two goals from Cesc and tongues a waggin’ in Spain over whether the former Arsenal man will make it into the starting line-up for a certain game at the Bernabeu on Saturday night. LLL fancies that he will. At least for today, anyway.

Roberto SoldadoOne deft touch and ecstasy was Saturday’s story for Roberto ‘hair trigger’ Soldado, who came off the bench with 15 minutes to go in the clash against Espanyol to poke the ball home with a header from a corner for his ninth league strike of the season. It was the Coentrao-style highlight of a rather snooze-inducing performance from Valencia. Still, it was job done and Valencia are now just four points behind Barcelona with a game in hand.

OsasunaSeventh - yes, seventh - placed Osasuna are just five points from the Champions League places after a very late winner against Betis at a stadium where the side are still unbeaten this season.

Atlético MadridMonday’s papers have been rather sniffy about Atlético’s performance in the 3-1 win over Levante, but LLL was on the spot in the Vicente Calderón and thought it was a considerable improvement on recent efforts at Rojiblanco Towers. While the scoreline was a little flattering in the end, there was rare movement and effort from the Atlético players in front of a 50,000 crowd that seems to rather enjoy midday kick-offs, largely because of the drinking time they afford straight afterwards.

GranadaThe Andalusian newbies have now moved into mid-table with a 1-0 win over Zaragoza. Effectiveness is the main tactic of Granada who have won all four of their matches this season with a one goal margin with just six scored in 13 games. Granada have another chance to repeat the feat on Wednesday with the last 30 minutes of the team’s match with Mallorca being played, a clash where Granada are 2-1 up. 

Real SociedadTwo wins in two matches for la Real and two victories managed in remarkable fashion for the side from San Sebastian. Last week’s winner came from a half-way line wonder in injury time. Sunday’s 3-2 victory over visiting Málaga saw Real Sociedad losing 2-1 with two minutes to go before a cracking overhead strike from Carlos Vela evened things out before a cool, calm and collected finish from Ifran won the match in injury time. “I’m not totally happy with the way we are winning games. We can’t always use direct football at the end of games,” fretted la Real boss, Philippe Montanier, on his side’s new Hail Mary approach to football.

Racing SantanderThree former players took charge during with the week after the resignation of Héctor Cúper and it seemed to do the trick with a 1-0 win over Villarreal, just Racing’s second victory of the season to lift the strugglers off the bottom-of-the-table. “We couldn’t have dreamed of a better night,” admitted the most vocal of The Trio, Juanjo González, who should probably eat more Red Leicester before going to bed at night by the sounds of it for proper Inception style madness.

La Liga Loca3-0 to Real Madrid was the pre-match prediction from the blog for Saturday’s clash against Sporting. 3-1 was the predicted scoreline for Atlético Madrid’s win over Rayo Vallecano. But both results came very late in the day with even the blog doubting its own undeniable brilliance in the forecasting department.

Bad Day

Athletic BilbaoAfter what was by most accounts a rather sluggish performance from Athletic, Marcelo Bielsa’s side are slowing down a touch having failed to win for the second game running, the latest being a 1-1 draw against Mallorca.

Espanyol A desperate lack of fire power up front leaves Espanyol without a win in five games now.

Rayo VallecanoNo matter where or when Rayo play, the side from Vallekas always bring the ghetto noise and give it a go in every game, something that has brought the team 16 points this season, but none in the 3-1 defeat to Atlético.“We have played now in the grounds of all the big teams and we have always taken them on,” boasted Rayo boss José Ramón Sandoval with some justification. The boisterous Rayo supporters also made their presence felt in the Vicente Calderón with sparkling witty political debate with the Atlético Ultras on the opposite side of the ground with the general argument going “you’re a bunch of fascists! Pah! You’re a bunch of commies!” Not unlike the recent general election discussions in Spain come to think of it.

VillarrealAbsolutely blooming awful against Racing in what looked like very bad news indeed for Manchester City fans who are looking for Villarreal to get something out of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Napoli. “We have to show more passion, courage and effort,” complained Juan Carlos Garrido on a team who could barely manage a shot on target in a game that really mattered never mind a meaningless midweek match in el Madrigal.

BetisA considerably sprightlier performance from Betis may keep Pepe Mel in his job for a little while longer - cue instant firing. Betis were battering Osasuna at times in the second half and holding the Pamplona outfit to a 1-1 draw. Then came an injury time free-kick winner from Javad Nekounam to stuff things up. “It’s the first time I used the word luck,” lamented the Betis boss, but we had very little today.”

ZaragozaNot exactly LLL’s favourite side in the world for too many reasons to mention at the moment, so it doesn’t exactly break the blog’s heart to see Zaragoza at the bottom-of-the-table after a run of seven games with just the single point picked up. “(Owner) Agapito has put into the club an irreparable decadence and each match is the representation of this inertia,” ranted Mario Ornat in Monday’s AS.

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