Good Day, Bad Day - Round 3

Good Day

Valencia

Poor Valencia. Three wins from three, a tricky derby victory away at Hércules and the best start to the season since the 1993/94 campaign, and yet it’s Leo Messi’s brand new ankle joint and José Mourinho’s will-he, won’t-he, who the frack really cares hullaballoo about becoming manager of Portugal for a fortnight that’s making the biggest waves in Spain on Monday. That and Maniche testing out the pool in his new Costa del Sol complex.

But La Liga Loca isn’t going to let the men from Mestalla down after a 2-1 win which  produced two of the best strikes you’ll see this weekend from Juan Mata and Pablo Hernández. (Highlights here).

Barcelona

The encounter against Atlético was grubby and grinding, stoppy and starty, but excellent nonetheless and a good chance for Barcelona to battle away, get their cojones out in the Spanish capital and test a most curious formation that had Sergi Busquets playing the central role in a back three in front of a midfield four when Barça were in possession of the ball.

But enough of such tactical musings, which LLL doesn’t really understand anyway. A win for Pep’s Dream Boys in the Vicente Calderón (Highlights here), a stadium where Barça have had troubles in recent years, is not to be sniffed at - especially in front of a wonderfully boisterous, barmy home crowd that was on the back of the referee from the opening seconds of the game.

Unfortunately, due to the blog's 'vantage point' a mere eight miles away from the pitch, LLL has no idea if the Calderón crazies were in their right minds for once.

David De Gea

How does David De Gea spent his Sunday evening after a brilliant performance against Barcelona? By driving back to his home village to hang out with his parents and grandfather Manolo, perhaps even taking the dog for a walk the next morning, that’s how. A man after La Liga Loca’s very boring, fairly unsociable, stranger-hating heart.

As Pep Guardiola said after the game, Barcelona put in ‘scandalous’ performance with De Gea perhaps preventing a 5-1 defeat. Although the showy shot-stoppers were certainly impressive, it was a De Gea dive at the foot of Messi’s still functioning feet that was the best of the bunch.

Real Madrid

LLL is never really sure it actually holds water with the “had lots of chances unlucky not to win” theory of football that it has often used in the past. Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann had two very, very good opportunities to score in the first half on Saturday, afterwards claiming that he woudln't be able to sleep much that night because of his French footballing failings.

But Real Madrid took their chances - a lovely swooping effort from Angel di María on his wrong foot and a brilliantly-orchestrated free-kick routine between Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo (that's if the early editions of Marca are to be believed).

The result, if not the performance, was evidence enough for Tomás Roncero in AS to state that Madrid will be title contenders this year, with the crazy columnist writing that “it’s these matches that win leagues.”

Even Sport’s anti-Madridista mask slipped a little with Lluís Mascaró going into sulk mode with his declaration on Sunday that Mourinho’s men “will be able to win matches and titles but they’ll never put on a show like Guardiola’s team do every week." (Highlights here).

Mateu Lahoz

Pat on the back time for a referee, with LLL joining José Mourinho in applauding the man in the middle for the Real Sociedad clash for his light touch in a feisty encounter that many of his card-loving colleagues would have ruined.

“The mentality of the referee was spectacular,” said Mourinho. “He was a very English referee in a tough game.”

La Liga Local’s Flat

Old mobile bills. Crusty clothes. Dust under the bed. The fruit bins in the fridge. Hair in the bath. A huge pile of newspapers. Damaging DNA evidence. 

All these were taken care of on Saturday afternoon as Mallorca against Osasuna droned away on TV in the background. Thanks to these two tedious teams, the blog’s penthouse has never looked better.

Sporting, Athletic Bilbao

However, a very early spring clean was curtailed when this enthralling clash of teams determined to go for the jugular kicked off straight after the bore-fest in the Balearics.

The end-to-end English style face-off finished 2-2 - the right result according to Sporting manager, Manuel Preciado. “It would have been unfair if either team had lost,” he reasoned.

Barça Rejects

Goals from the unwanted Camp Nou pair of Henrique and Martin Cáceres lead to much-needed wins for Racing Santander and Sevilla respectively. Curiously, both are centre-backs, a position where Barcelona are a little bit light this season.

Villarreal

One line of praise for Villarreal, today, as a win at Levante isn’t worthy of too much more...

Espanyol

A 1-0 victory for Espanyol against Almería that opposition coach, Juanma Lillo, huffed was “a goalless draw and nothing more”, constitutes a spectacular show in El Prat-land, these days. Here’s one of Sunday’s punters, Paul from Barcelona.

“A pretty dour match of few chances, the best ones falling to Espanyol. A well taken goal by Callejon seemed to take a deflection on its way in. Well, you'd think so by Diego Alves' reaction but the footage was inconclusive. As it was Callejon shooting I ducked and covered in my seat 21 rows back so I missed it.

Almería were very poor. Lacked any form of guile and kicked anything that moved. Usual rubbish referee and assistants. Sergio García didn't look too bad and I'll give Callejon MOTM just for the goal as nobody stood out. A solid enough performance by Espanyol whose minimum was too much for Almería (40-odd away fans).”

Paul, Barcelona.

Bad Day

Tomás Ujfalusi

May well be pulling out of that return visit to the Camp Nou, this season, with a sudden hamstring twinge after that ankle-snapping lunge on Leo Messi on Sunday night.

Gorka Iraizoz

The LLL curse strikes again. A day after the blog was praising the Athletic keeper to the highest of heavens, Gorka had an absolute ‘mare against Sporting and gifted the first goal to the home side by dropping the ball at the feet of the admirably alert Miguel de las Cuevas. (Highlights here).

José Antonio Camacho

The Osasuna boss didn’t really get the chance to explain away a third match without a goal in the 2-0 defeat against Mallorca as there was a large advert parked right in front of Camacho’s face in the post match press conference meaning that only the tippy top of his head was visible.

David Trezeguet

The polite thing to write is that the French striker now plying his trade at Hércules is still finding his Gallic feet in la Primera after three more whopping chances were missed, to go with the open goal effort blown against Barcelona, last weekend. However, LLL suspects Trezeguet will be reaching double figures, this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Thanks to a very alert camera man from Gol TV on Saturday night, Real Madrid fans were able to enjoy the sight of Cristiano ‘no me in team’ Ronaldo reacting to his free-kick - and subsequent winning goal - by walking away in a huff and slamming his hands into his sides in frustration. It needed a shove and a “what’s wrong with you hug?” from Marcelo before Ronaldo broke into a half-hearted smile. 

“An individualist and wrong on most of his decisions,” wrote AS on the forward’s performance against La Real.

Levante

The Valencia club’s wonderfully dotty defense was on display again, on Sunday, with Villarreal twice putting through goal-grabbing balls that left the going backwards back four a long way behind. (Highlights here).

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