Good Day, Bad Day: Inspirational Unai, Rampant Rayo and an Invisible Villarreal

RESULTS Sat 7 Apr Getafe 2-0 Sporting Gijón; Rayo Vallecano 6-0 Osasuna; Espanyol 2-2 Real Sociedad; Real Zaragoza 1-4 Barcelona; Real Betis 3-1 Villarreal Sun 8 Apr Levante 2-0 Atlético Madrid; Mallorca 0-0 Granada; Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Sevilla; Real Madrid 0-0 Valencia Mon 9 Apr Málaga 3-0 Racing Santander


Leo MessiHello again, Mr Messi! Same shapeless haircut as usual as if your mother has done it? Two more goals, sir? Another assist, a brilliant bit of skill that nearly brought about another assist? Sounds like the usual weekend, Mr Messi. Now, would sir like something for the weekend?

Unai EmeryLLL isn't entirely sure that it's going to help the Valencia manager’s cause at all with the Mestalla fans, but a comfortable cruise through to the Europa League semi-finals and a masterful tactical display at the Santiago Bernabeu to frustrate Real Madrid must surely give Team Unai some respite... Nope? Didn’t think so.

LevanteIt needed just 10 minutes of work for Levante to rid themselves of sleepy Atlético Madrid on Sunday in a 2-0 win to make the Valencia club official, grown-up serious contenders for the Champions League places, never mind the Europa League, after three victories in their past five games. “It tells you everything when we say that one Atlético signing is worth three times Levante’s budget,” said a proud Juan Ignacio Martínez after a result that temporarily put his team on the same number of points as Valencia.

GetafeGetafe plod their way to the magic 42-point safety mark with seven games to go thanks to a victory so comfortable over Sporting, the tension-free home support ended up entertaining themselves in the Coliseum by joining in with the visiting supporters when they called for the head of Javier Clemente.

“Let’s see where we end up,” said Getafe boss Luis García, whose team now have a decent chance of a European spot, such is the bumbling nature of the teams around them. And LLL is having a stern look at you, Espanyol and Osasuna.

Athletic BilbaoA huge sigh of relief in the Basque Country after Athletic manage their first win in five. Both they and Sevilla were sluggish in the first half but the home team suddenly found their mojo and won with a traditional method: cross for Fernando Llorente to head in.

Rayo VallecanoLate last week, a furious José Ramón Sandoval waved a piece of paper to the press claiming that due to a technicality of the club going into administration, he was being legally forced to return wages paid to him last summer – late wages, no less. The Rayo boss admitted that he was expecting a contract renewal, something that will probably ripped apart in front of his bosses' faces now.

A livid Sandoval promised that the team “would work harder to show that this badge is above everything else.” Rayo would go on a “Japanese strike”, an expression meaning trying even harder than usual. The brilliant Rayo boss and his players were true to his words with a 6-0 demolition of visiting Osasuna – a very handy victory after three defeats had left the Madrid side wobbling.

MichuA brace against Osasuna makes it 15 for the rampaging Rayo marauder. LLL is behind his manager when Sandoval said that Spain should look at him after the European Championships, to add some meat and muscle to the tiki and taka.

BetisThe Seville side may not always get the results they deserve but they're never less than entertaining to watch. That was certainly the case as they tore into Villarreal, with the dynamic front duo of Rubén Castro and Roque Santa Cruz coming up with a goal between them to give Betis back-to-back victories and a 10-point cushion from the relegation zone.

Carlos VelaTwo absolute belters for the magic Mexican makes it another week in the Good Day section for the on-loan Arsenal attacker.


Real MadridThe Madridista press appear to have taken Sunday’s setback against Valencia on the chin, Monday’s papers praising the goalless draw with whoops a’plenty and box-to-box antics. “It felt like a great European semi-final,” wrote AS editor Alfredo Relaño.

However, it will no doubt sink in over the next few days that Madrid’s grip on the league title has slipped remarkably over the past month, to leave the club swinging about on la Primera’s rope ladder like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom. Rather than Madrid going through a sticky patch of poor form against Villarreal, Málaga and Valencia, perhaps it’s because Mourinho’s men have come up against teams who are both disciplined and organised.

PepeThe bad news was that Pepe showed his loony side on Sunday when he lashed out with his foot after a tackle. The good news for the defender was that it was against his own team-mate, more by luck than design.

OsasunaTen goals in two games conceded by the Pamplona people, who have now gone into sleep mode – as witnessed when Rayo rushed into a 4-0 lead after 34 minutes. “We can’t repeat this attitude as we represent a team, a region and a city,” fumed manager José Luis Mendilibar ahead of what must have been a very unpleasant trip home indeed for his failing footballers.

Atlético MadridDespite complaints of a midday kick-off on Sunday after a Thursday night game in Germany, Diego Simeone grumbled that the weekend’s loss to Levante was not “an excuse, but a reality.” LLL wonders what the reasons are for Atletico's failure to win in other 13 la Liga trips this season.

Espanyol Dropped points at home in a 2-2 draw with Real Sociedad sees the Pericos on the naughty step this week. Here’s Paul from Barcelona to tell us all about a fourth match without a win for stumbling Espanyol... except he can’t due to bronchitis with only the energy to complain about a missed penalty by the ref! Must be serious. Get well soon, Paul from Barcelona!

VillarrealPlan A for a side managed by Miguel Angel Lotina is not to concede and hope for the best. Two goals for Betis in the first half saw the Villarreal boss rifling through a very empty tactics sack for a plan B with the visitors playing a back four, a defensive duo in front of them, a full-back in front of them and a single striker and two lonely play-makers. “When I came, things were worse than they are now,” claimed Lotina after the match, wheeling out the “not my fault” excuse nice and early. 

Javier ClementeLLL was front row and centre before Javier Clemente, who had seen his Sporting side limply fail to Getafe with barely a shot on goal. The blog was hoping for a repeat of last week's slanging match with a journalist – as long as it wasn’t the thin-skinned, sensitive blog – but instead Clemente (who is the tiniest person you’ll ever see, by the way) spoke openly and honestly for about 20 minutes.

Having taken over in January, the Sporting boss said that there’s very little a coach can do in such a short spell aside from motivate the team, lift spirits if possible and try to fix any glaring errors. Clemente pointed out the fundamental issue with Sporting is that the team are hardworking and ‘honest’ but collectively are not good enough for la Primera. “If you are going to compete in a Formula 1 race, then you need a Formula 1 car or else you are going to finish last in every race.”