Good Day, Bad Day: Pep’s Problems, Arda’s ‘ard work & a Tennis Ball Tantrum

Good Day

Real MadridThere was a beautiful silence in Spain on Sunday morning, aside from the cheering in the fancier bits of Spanish capital and the grumbling from the culé collective. The hush was thanks to nobody moaning about conspiracies, refereeing decisions, fouls, offsides or any other minutiae that so often get picked over post-Clásico. Real Madrid won Clásico XI fair and square through a disciplined, focussed defensive performance and a dangerous attack that had more shots on goal to Barcelona with a ratio of six to three, despite only having 27% possession. The league title could now be won on Sunday if Madrid beat Sevilla and Barcelona lose out at Rayo Vallecano.

ValenciaBooed onto the field but cheered off of it. That was the story of Valencia’s 4-0 win over Betis, with their supporters still livid after Thursday’s Europa League semi-final surrender in the Vicente Calderón.

Arouna KonéA goal from the on-loan Levante striker in a 1-1 draw against parent club Sevilla took Koné to 14 in the league and 16 overall for the season, two goals shy of an automatic contract renovation with Sevilla, something the forward reportedly doesn’t want.

Gaizka ToqueroThere’s an awful lot of responsibility on the limited but hard-working shoulders of Athletic Bilbao's Toquero, a forward who has to deliver the goals when Fernando Llorente is rested to stay freash for the side’s European encounters. Unfortunately for the poor fella, Toquero is rarely able to fill his partner’s poaching boots, with his goal in the 1-0 win away to Racing just his fourth in the league this season. However, it was enough to give Athletic all three points and move the team into sixth.

Arda TuranThe Vicente Calderón has seen an awful lot of fun over the past few days, starting with Thursday’s 4-2 Europa League win over Valencia. Atlético carried on in that confident spirit on Sunday with a comfy 3-1 victory over Espanyol. The victory came thanks to two great goals from Arda Turan, a second minute bicycle-kick being the best of the bunch. Atlético are now attempting a late-burst, Seb Coe style, off Málaga and Valencia’s shoulder in the race for a Champions League place.

Sevilla FansSeconds into the match against Levante, hundreds of tennis balls were lobbed onto the Sánchez Pizjuán pitch in protest at the kick-off time being moved from 22.00 to 22.30 so as not to interfere with the post-Clásico coverage. “Stop the game, Mou is still talking,” read the banner which would have been more impressive had it instead read Karanka.

MallorcaQuietly, quietly without too much disturbance in the Force, Joaquín Caparrós has guided Mallorca to another year in la Primera. The 1-0 win over Zaragoza moved Mallorca onto 43 points, the maximum that Saturday’s opponents who are third from bottom in the table can achieve with Mallorca having a better head-to-head record over the Aragon outfit.

Carlos VelaYet another place in the Good Day section for the Real Sociedad forward, who is on loan from Arsenal, a club who must have noted the Mexican’s inspired run of form. Vela’s bicycle kick to pick up a point for la Real against Villarreal was the fancy front man’s 11th of the season and fifth in the past five games.

GranadaA 1-0 win against Getafe may not look that sexy with certain other matches taking place this weekend but it moved the Primera newbies to within a single win from staying up.

SportingProbably a bit late now, but a 2-1 victory over Rayo on Saturday is better than a defeat LLL supposes. Sporting now level with Zaragoza on 31 points.

Bad Day

Pep GuardiolaThe Barça manager admitted errors in his approach to Saturday’s title crunch-fest, with the youngster Cristian Tello carrying a lot of the goalscoring responsibility for the team. However, LLL has some sympathy as the Barça boss didn’t really have that much choice. The side’s best chance of a big win this season is in the Champions League, which made playing the knock-carrying Alexis too much of a risk. Cesc is out of form, David Villa injured and Pedro will also be required in the Camp Nou for the visit of Chelsea. Guardiola’s tinkerings were necessary ones, but when the game began the line-up simply wasn’t strong enough to beat a Real Madrid that was firm at the back yet probing up front. It’s a simple answer to a complex question of how Real Madrid beat Barcelona in 90 minutes at the 11th attempt for José Mourinho.

SevillaMíchel’s men are completely losing their way in the final run-in when rivals for a European spot such as Athletic and Atlético are rediscovering their form. Sevilla were battered 5-1 by Getafe last Monday and were held at home 1-1 by little Levante on Saturday night / Sunday morning.

Rayo VallecanoThe Vallecas Flash is in awful form at the moment with injuries, suspensions and general fatigue catching up with the team. The 6-0 victory over Osasuna a couple of weeks ago, is the side’s only win in the past seven games, a spell that has seen six losses, the most recent being a 2-1 reverse at Sporting on Saturday. The final two or three points Rayo need to stay up could be tough ones to get, especially as the next clash is the visit of Barcelona.

VillarrealAnother lead lost in the final minutes for Villarreal who dropped two points in a draw against Racing last weekend in the final seconds and did it again against la Real on Sunday with just five minutes left on the clock. Those errors make the difference for Villarreal needing five more points or a single point to stay up.

Zaragoza Ouchies. A defeat to Mallorca sees Zaragoza needing to win all of their final four matches against Athletic, Levante, Racing and Getafe to give the team the smallest of chances of staying up. All those challenges are doable but Zaragoza are relying on Villarreal six points above them to have a bit of a mare at the end of season. But with Miguel Angel Lotina in charge, anything can happen.

Racing SantanderReports of a team that look a touch down in the dumps are not all that surprising for a Racing side that’s bottom-of-the-table on 26 points, without a win in over four months, having just lost their 16th league game of the season with a 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao.