La Liga’s Good Day, Bad Day - Round 17

Good Day

Atlético Madrid

Quique Sánchez Flores’ tactic of insults, humiliation and good old-fashioned physical torment towards his players in the wake of the midweek defeat to Recreativo has proved so successful that La Liga Loca suspects that the club is considering installing a pain dungeon in the bowels of the Vicente Calderón.

Then again, after hearing some of the somewhat sticky stories from Atleti’s overseas tours in recent years, that may not be the best of ideas.

The 4-0 away win over Valladolid will no doubt delight and infuriate the Rojiblanco support as they contemplate why their players can only be bothered giving a hamster’s hat in a very select group of games.

Or perhaps the victory was down to the simple fact that Atleti “couldn’t keep on playing as badly as we were,” as Quique himself said?

José Antonio Reyes

Unbelievably, the second-half strike from Reyes against Valladolid was his first goal for Atlético in one-and-a-half seasons at the club - an event set to start off a whole new round of short-lived “Reyes is back” headlines.

To celebrate the strike, the Rojiblanco winger has decided to dedicate the goal to his son, the imaginatively named José Antonio Reyes.

Sergio Canales

“For someone who has no responsibility, he is incredibly cool-headed,” purred Racing captain Pedro Munitis on his 18-year-old striking partner.

Out of contract in June, Canales scored a wonderful brace against Sevilla on Saturday, showing incredible composure in the process to set off a Wacky Races-style chase for his signature.

Juan Manuel Lillo

The mad-as-a-bag-of-spanners Almería manager could have faced the wintry touchline conditions in El Madrigal in an overcoat or jacket.

But no, Juan Manuel Lillo enjoyed the encounter clad in jeans and a light sweater. Genius. He pulled off an unlikely 1-1 draw against Villarreal too.

Gonzalo Higuaín

Perhaps after a poke from Florentino Pérez, Marca floated the idea of a Cesc Fabregas-Higuaín swap in a poll last week.

The results showed that 88 percent of the Madridista masses thought that would be a terrible idea.

The 12 percent who disagreed need a good slap, as it was Higuaín who once again led Madrid to victory with a goal and an assist whilst Cristiano Ronaldo generally tarted about the pitch like a big, pretty pony and Kaká continued to endanger the lives of fans sitting either side of the Bernabeu goals with his abstract approach to shooting.

Bojan Krkic

Although it was Leo Messi who grabbed a hat-trick against Tenerife, the (other) pint-sized poacher was the big winner of the night with a couple of assists - and good ones, too.

Pep Guardiola isn't really an admirer of the youngster, so another poor performance could have spelled the end of days for the (other) bowl-haired striker.

Barcelona owed a great deal to Victor Valdés for their victory after the keeper prevented a first-half whitewash by a terrifically tenacious Tenerife, with Guardiola admitting that “they had three clear chances and we were in trouble.”

But some rapid fire action from Messi lead to a 5-0 scoreline and Sport smugly declaring on Monday that Barça fans are “super happy and super calm.”

Sporting

Manuel Preciado’s men are certainly a lot less entertaining than they were last year with barely a 4-3 to be seen.

The 1-0 win over Getafe in El Molinón was the fourth of the same scoreline this season, but more importantly Sporting’s first victory in five.

This Primera pragmatism should see them hanging around for another season in the top flight, which is a very good thing indeed.

Juan Rodríguez

AS call him ‘omnipresent’ and a classy, spinny strike makes the midfielder Deportivo’s leading goal-scorer.

The fact that his tally is two and the leadership is shared by eight others shouldn’t detract anything from the achievement.

Another 1-0 win from Depor moved the team into - gulp - fourth.

Espanyol

Look at that! Espanyol slay the mighty Zaragoza thanks to a goalkeeping gaffe and a deflected shot off the post.

And here’s Paul from Barcelona to tell us all about it.

“Well, that wasn't very good. Both teams struggled to maintain any kind of rhythm.

The first goal for Espanyol was a Victor Valdés-style howler which Verdú gratefully returned with interest and Zaragoza's equaliser came courtesy of blog favourite Angel Arizmendi.

Well, it didn't, really. It deflected off Moises.

The winner came thanks to the only thing Callejon did right all match when his shot was saved and the rebound fell to Marques who scored the winner.

1) Zaragoza are the worst team I've seen this season. Very poor indeed.2) Jermaine Pennant probably wishes for a return to Notts County. Has got to be better than his current plight. He looked a bit lost and was substituted.3) Abysmal refereeing as usual. How only one Zaragoza player got booked is beyond me. Dirty team.4) While not quite as bad as our Beloved Leader would have us believe, Arizmendi is not very good.5) Zaragoza's fans applauding the 21st-minute tribute to Jarque. Not just a few: by the end of the minute it was nearly all of them. Good support, they deserve better”.

Paul, Barcelona

Valencia

Although Valencia managed nothing more than what 11 other sides have achieved this season in beating Xerez, the 3-1 victory gives the Mestalla men seven away wins this season, the best record in La Primera.

Now if Unai Emery’s men hadn't been such dozy dolts in failing to win five at home, the eight-point margin that currently separates themselves from Barcelona may have been considerably smaller.

Real Madrid fans

“53,000 heroes” says Tomás Roncero in AS after the brave little soldiers went to watch the game in Madrid’s FULLY HEATED stadium.

Bad Day

Sevilla

Oh my, oh my. Sevilla’s performance on Saturday night was a complete shambles.

Diego Perotti and Diego Capel bombing up the wings with little clue of what to do once they ran into the touchline, the defence a mess and the central midfield non-existent.

The home defeat to Racing is Sevilla’s third in a row in La Liga (all with the same 2-1 scoreline) and leaves Manolo Jiménez under enormous pressure.

“We’ve lost all respect for ourselves,” admitted the crestfallen Sevilla coach.

Tenerife

A desperately frustrating evening for Tenerife, who could have pulled off a storming victory over a rattled Barcelona.

But unfortunately, as coach José Luis Oltra shrugged after the game, “the result was too harsh – but we’ve seen this film before”.

The Canary Islanders have picked up just one win in nine, which is of little comfort to the Tenerife fans whose only enjoyment from Sunday night was being able to watch a game of football in T-shirts whilst the rest of the country froze their t*ts off.

Villarreal

Soporific stuff from the Yellow Submarine.

Málaga

The southern side’s unbeaten run now extends to eight, but includes just one win. And that's why Málaga are still in the bottom three.

However, they were a little unlucky during Sunday’s 1-1 home draw against Athletic with the visitors being given the softest of penalties.

And it has been all quiet on the Basque front in response to the decision, which is in stark contrast to the conspiracy lunacy that will be launched should Real Madrid benefit from something similar next weekend in San Mamés.

Valladolid

Despite having been caught out several hundred times over, José Luis Mendilibar’s love of an astonishingly high defence shows no sign of diminishing anytime soon.

Saturday’s 4-0 defeat against Atlético is just another example of a tactic that may need some tinkering.

Xerez

Having scored an actual goal against Valencia, the bottom of the table team almost, almost made it into the Good Day section. But they didn’t.

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