The Other 18 (and Barcelona)With Rayo and Real Madrid having a few electrical issues on Sunday night, the good news is that even more space is left in MondayÃ¢ÂÂs sizzler for the rest of la Liga. But do not fear, there'll be a cord-cutting corker coming up on Tuesday as LLL makes its return to Vallecas in a league where it takes two trips in two days to see one game.
MallorcaBrutally effective stuff from Mallorca in the win over Valencia brought a result that moved the Balearic team up into second place, without a loss in five. Statistics show 37% possession, three shots on target against the visitors - one of those straight at Diego Alves who spilled the ball for the first - and no corners. However, the result was a 2-0 win. Ã¢ÂÂWe had patience and the ability to suffer,Ã¢ÂÂ said a pleased-as-punch JoaquÃÂn CaparrÃÂ³s, who may well have also been talking about the experience of the Mallorca fans, who have to support a team that are certainly admirable but not always exciting.
MÃÂ¡laga/Athletic BilbaoA point apiece will have left both teams happy. MÃÂ¡laga continue an unbeaten start to the season after an epic week in Europe, while Athletic keep a second clean sheet in la Liga in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs goalless draw.
AtlÃÂ©tico MadridStill a wacky bunch of funsters and a great team to watch, not just for the attacking play of sparkly forward pair of Diego Costa and Falcao, but also the renewed habit of switching off when they get a lead and then nearly blowing it. It happened last week against Rayo, with the visitors 4-0 down but getting back to 4-3 with eight minutes to go, and it was a repeat performance against Valladolid in a rainy Vicente CalderÃÂ³n with Thibaud Courtois making up for a rare blunder that had given the visitors a way back into the match with some fine saves.
BetisWith the Seville side due to play their match in hand against AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid on Wednesday, the club could improve on their already impressive current fifth-placed spot. However, coach Pepe Mel will be wary of a repeat of last season, when Betis lead the league after four rounds with a 100% record before losing nine of their next 10 games, a run which nearly resulted in the managerÃ¢ÂÂs sacking.
Obafemi MartinsLevanteÃ¢ÂÂs newest recruit says he has moved to la Liga for fun rather than finance, and is already proving to be the clubÃ¢ÂÂs missing link up front this season, having replaced Arouna KonÃÂ©. The Nigerian striker came on at half-time and was quite the handful for the Real Sociedad defence, especially when scoring the winner in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs 2-1 victory. Ã¢ÂÂI saw KonÃÂ©Ã¢ÂÂs goals on Youtube the other day. He did well here, but I expect (Martins) to be better,Ã¢ÂÂ said Levante boss JIM after the match.
Park Chu-YoungThe on-loan Arsenal striker took just three minutes to score his first goal for Celta Vigo, having arrived on the pitch as a second-half substitute, and in the process become the first South Korean to score in la Liga. Celta have been playing some lovely football since the start of the season and are now beginning to get their deserved biscuits of praise with two victories in their last three matches.
Real ZaragozaLived life on the edge for much of the final part of the win against Osasuna, but the teamÃ¢ÂÂs second victory of the season moved the Aragon outfit into a more snug spot in mid-table. They ainÃ¢ÂÂt all that though, this season.
Abdelaziz BarradaA defeat for his Getafe side against Celta Vigo, but a third goal at the start of the season for the clubÃ¢ÂÂs increasingly impressive attacker.
ToÃÂ±oA goalkeeper who only used to be newsworthy when his goalkeeperÃ¢ÂÂs jersey featured a typeface which appeared to change the Ã¢ÂÂTÃ¢ÂÂ in his name to a Ã¢ÂÂCÃ¢ÂÂ - one for the non-Spanish speakers to Google. An exceptional performance from the experienced Granada goalkeeper than had Spanish football journalists once again going Ã¢ÂÂdelete, delete, delete, rewriteÃ¢ÂÂ three minutes from the end of time after holding off Barcelona for 87 minutes of the match but finding it impossible to get near a splendid Xavi strike.
BarcelonaAnother performance that was so flat and wasteful that even local cheerleaders Sport rumbled on Sunday that Ã¢ÂÂfootball matches last 90 minutes but Barcelona only played for 15.Ã¢ÂÂ Still, 15 is the number of points that Barcelona have after five la Liga matches. Which is good, by LLL's mathematic reckoning.
David Villa & Leo MessiWhat was nothing more than an all-too-common spat of two forwards whining to each other about a poor pass - something that happens from park football to la Primera - became such a storm in a thimble that the Argentinean was forced after the match to tell everyone the pair were still best buddies, despite longstanding rumours coming out of the Catalan capital to contrary. Ã¢ÂÂThis happens a lot on a football field,Ã¢ÂÂ sighed Tito Vilanova, most likely sensing an incoming wave of rabble-rousing from the Madrid media.
ValenciaA terrible weekend for Valencia. First came the news that the financing deal that would allow the club to continue the protracted building works on the new Mestalla had fallen through, then came a sorry defeat to Mallorca, leaving Los Che with a record of just the single victory in six competitive games, a run that must already see Mauricio Pellegrini in some trouble at such a notoriously trigger-happy club. Ã¢ÂÂMy players gave everything on the pitch and playing this way, we are going to win a lot of games,Ã¢ÂÂ claimed the Valencia boss, very much seeing a half-full glass of footballing milkshake, despite the fact that Mallorca drank most of it, Ã¢ÂÂThere Will Be BloodÃ¢ÂÂ style.
EspanyolWoe is a wonderful word and it fits EspanyolÃ¢ÂÂs existence at the moment. There was hustle and bustle against Betis in the 1-0 defeat, as there has been all season, but the club still has just the single point despite the Pericos scoring more goals than top-four-bothering MÃÂ¡laga, having netted seven but conceded 11, the most in la Primera. Worse than Real Madrid, even.
OsasunaA stern dressing room discussion followed OsasunaÃ¢ÂÂs fourth defeat of the season's five games, a 3-1 loss at Zaragoza. There were tough words from tough coach JosÃÂ© Luis Mendilibar, who stormed that Ã¢ÂÂat the moment we are not at a level to compete in la Primera,Ã¢ÂÂ and that the bottom-dwellers were not playing as a team. Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂd be idiots not to agree with him,Ã¢ÂÂ said Oier Sanjurjo after a match in which two of ZaragozaÃ¢ÂÂs winning strikes were an Osasuna own goal and a penalty.