Good Day, Bad Day: Puyol’s punch, Racing’s relegation & rubbish Reyes


Real MadridA touch lucky at times – what with the perfectly good early goal disallowed for Sevilla, who proceeded to be somewhat hopeless in front of goal – but it was job done for Real Madrid on Sunday morning in the Santiago Bernabeu. A comfy 3-0 victory leaves the team just needing a win at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday to pick up league title No.32.

ThiagoAlthough there was much to enjoy in the performances from Leo Messi and Pedro in the front three during Barcelona’s 7-0 demolition of Rayo, LLL was particularly tickled by Thiago in the centre of midfield, who bossed and lauded over what was admittedly a bit of a soft centre for Rayo. The Spanish/Brazilian was a footballer who seemed to thrive under the responsibility handed to him in the absence of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta. It was a performance that saw Barcelona recover from a tough week in some style.

Carles PuyolThe Barcelona legend's status goes up another notch with his ear-clipping intervention to stop Thiago and Dani Alves celebrating the fifth goal with a samba in front of the Rayo fans. “We apologise to Rayo, it will never happen again,” announced Pep Guardiola after the game.

Málaga The 1-0 win over Valencia sees the southerners draw level in third with the team they beat – although not on head-to-head scores – but it was a flat performance in a flat game between two flat teams. This sounds a tad harsh, but without a decent striker – as Málaga are at the moment – the Champions League challengers aren't really that impressive as an outfit, Santi Cazorla and Isco aside. More investment needed this summer.

ValdoThe forward is the typical example of how Levante have been successful over the past season and a half – a journeyman footballer thought to be past his best, stepping up to the mark with Bruce Willis / Armageddon style big performances and nuclear detonations. The 31-year-old popped up with two assists and a goal in a 3-1 win over Granada that still gives Levante a chance of a Champions League place thanks to Valencia’s imminent collapse: little Levante are just three points and two spots behind their city neighbours.

Betis / Atlético MadridA point is probably just fine for both clubs in their respective quests to stay up and qualify for more European football. However, all the excitement came at the end, with three goals in the final six minutes to make a 2-2 draw in Andalusia.

Raul GarcíaAn amazing – and it truly was amazing – 10th league goal of the season for the Osasuna forward-type-player gives his side a point at Villarreal and an ongoing chance of European football next season.

MallorcaThe final three games will probably end in three defeats, with Mallorca taking the Getafe holiday option, but there's a very faint sniff of a top-six finish for the Balearic club who are three points off after Saturday’s rather surprising 3-1 away win at the Coliseum. See, la Liga can be exciting after all!

Real SociedadYou sense that not all fans are happy about it, but la Real's not-all-that-popular French boss Philippe Montanier has led the club to top-flight safety with three games to spare – thanks to a couple of goals from Antoine Griezmann, who finally decided to show up to the Primera party after a lost year in San Sebastian. 

A Rayo loonLLL spent a fair amount of Sunday’s game against Barcelona watching an insanely animated Rayo fan dressed in an all-in-one unitard-with-mask Spiderman-style suit, covered in black and white checks. The blog salutes you.

Zaragoza, SportingClosing in from behind on 17th-placed Villarreal, both clubs sense fear and other unmentionable whiffies coming from the back of the Yellow Submarine. Both won their weekend matches to close the gap to four points with three games left, and on Tuesday Sporting face...Villarreal, of course!


Gonzalo HiguaínThe striker began the season as José Mourinho’s No.1 striker, but now the Argentinian is very much a No.2, despite having scored a goal more than Karim Benzema. A (very) late sub in both Champions League semi-finals and the Clásico, the Argentinian didn’t even make it off the bench on Sunday, a possible response to reports that he has been talking to representatives of PSG due to his unhappiness at being shoved down the pecking order at Real Madrid.

ValenciaThought so. Completely given up. “Unai Emery left his theories on a winning mentality in the library,” complained the match report in AS after the lame defeat to Málaga. José Antonio ReyesThe Sevilla forward was a complete waste of space on Sunday against Real Madrid, to end a year where he has been a complete waste of space for both the clubs he’s played for.

Getafe, EspanyolTwo teams who, having reached the fork in the road with directions marked "European football next year" and "European vacation now", have taken the more relaxing route. Getafe crashed 3-1 at home to Mallorca, with Luis García admitting that “I’m sad: I can’t find any explanation for such a bad match.” Meanwhile, Espanyol did even worse, with Paul from Barcelona in the stands to see a 3-0 defeat by relegation-doomed Sporting.

“Well that was the worst performance I've witnessed since I saw DLT doing a Radio 1 roadshow in 1978 [Gary Davies always delivered – LLL]. Overpaid, underperforming, lacking any real ideas – and Espanyol weren't much better.

"Basically this one was phoned in. For a team with an outside chance of Europe they lacked any ideas and most of the team looked like they were 'on the beach' already.

"To quote Fernando Torres – and what a fantastic week it's been – the best team doesn't always win. Despite being rubbish, Espanyol still played better football than Sporting – but like Chelsea, Sporting took their chances and deserved to win because they wanted it more.

"Sporting's fans were great and Espanyol fans clapped Sporting off the pitch, more to show disgust at Espanyol to be honest. Things not looking good here. All the best players will be gone in the summer and the lack of ambition stated by Kameni looks to be true.” –– Paul, Barcelona

VillarrealSaturday’s 1-1 against Osasuna was the third match in a row that Villarreal have held a 1-0 lead in a game, before missing chances and then seeing the advantage being wiped out. Although Villarreal have only lost one of their eight matches under Miguel Angel Lotina, five have been draws. Tuesday’s clash at Sporting could either seal safety for the east coast club or leave the team in all sorts of trouble with two matches to go – matches against Valencia and Atlético Madrid, no less. 

José Ramón SandovalRayo still need those three points to enjoy safety for another season, but there was no chance whatsoever of picking them up against a Barcelona side who completely outclassed a team supposed to be enjoying home advantage. “I can’t look myself in the mirror,” admitted the Rayo boss. “If you let in seven how can you not be ashamed?”

Racing SantanderNow officially relegated after defeat to Real Sociedad, they may not be back for a while considering there's an almighty mess concerning who actually owns them. It’s the fans who must suffer the absolute idiocy of the former management of the club with the ‘sale’ to Ahsan Ali Syed, a move that has spelt disaster for an institution that’s 100 years old.