Ever BanegaFor an hour or so, it looked like being the 13th consecutive season that poor old Atleti would fail to win on their special Ã¢ÂÂDay of the FansÃ¢ÂÂ. It looked like going the same way of the Ã¢ÂÂDay of the ChildrenÃ¢ÂÂ the fortnight before, an event that saw thousands of new Real Madrid supporters being formed after a 4-2 home defeat to Osasuna. But then the on-loan-from-Valencia, 20 million euro man Ever Banega came quickly off the bench, had a frenzied five minutes, rose to the occasion and exploded into action with a strike on the hour mark to give the rojiblancos a 1-0 lead.
The Ever reliable Banega
Opponents Numancia had a perfectly good equalising goal disallowed before AtlÃÂ©tico wrapped up the tie with two more efforts and a famous victory. Ã¢ÂÂThe CalderÃÂ³n had begun to think the worst, another fiesta and another fiasco,Ã¢ÂÂ commented AS, but it was alright on the night and a win to keep Atleti on track for another crushingly disappointing end of season run-in. BarcelonaAs one panicking, perspiring Barcelona fan noted on the blog over the weekend, it was a nervy second half against Getafe on Saturday night. But it really shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt have been. Having restricted the home side at the Coliseum to about two chances on goal during the entire encounter, BarÃÂ§a had penalties, goals, declarations of independence all turned down by the referee who, letÃ¢ÂÂs not forget, has been instructed to hand the Catalan club the league title, according to Marca. La Liga Loca had felt a draw in its waters in this tie, not because of the inferiority of Barcelona, but because of the notion that sodÃ¢ÂÂs law would eventually catch up with PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys and some footballing punk like Getafe would get lucky one day. Out of all BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs wins this season, the 1-0 drubbing of Getafe may well have given Pep Guardiola the most pleasure. The downside is that a day-long strike by the workers of TV station, Telemadrid, meant that La Liga Loca was deprived of seeing what the most outrageously anti-Barcelona presenters of their Sunday night football show would have to say about the refereeing decisions. El Pais were on hand to point out the good side to the blackout noting that the blank screen was Ã¢ÂÂthe best programming the channel has produced in yearsÃ¢ÂÂ and that viewers were spared Ã¢ÂÂthe systematic insults to our intelligenceÃ¢ÂÂ that Telemadrid normally trots out. Real MadridAs ever, La Liga Loca has nothing original to say on Real MadridÃ¢ÂÂs result this week. Nothing different to what even the most barmy of Bernabeu fans are feeling. Yes, 15 wins from 16 is incredible and yes, equalling the record of seven away victories on the trot is also a fantastic feat. But hells bells, does it have to be so dull to watch?Ã¢ÂÂThe definition of minimalism,Ã¢ÂÂ complains Juanma Trueba in AS. Ã¢ÂÂTheyÃ¢ÂÂve found a way of winning games and it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt deviate a minute from the script,Ã¢ÂÂ notes MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs Santiago Segurola. However, it is the paperÃ¢ÂÂs editorial from Sunday that the blog has to agree with - something that makes it feel very uncomfortable indeed - and its opinion that Ã¢ÂÂitÃ¢ÂÂs a shame theyÃ¢ÂÂre not playing well... because theyÃ¢ÂÂre making history.Ã¢ÂÂ
Business as usual for Real
Alvaro NegredoWhile Madrid are set to blow a good 60 million or so on either Kaka or Cristiano Ronaldo this summer - players who are by no means guaranteed to reach the 25 goal mark in la Liga - the club already has access to player who can achieve that feat, but for considerably less money. In fact, for 4.5 million euro Real Madrid can invoke a buy-back clause on AlmerÃÂaÃ¢ÂÂs Alvaro Negredo, a player who scored 13 league goals for what was a newly promoted club last year and is currently on 19 for the southern side.
Indeed, 15 of those goals came from open play - the same tally as David Villa - and six were headers. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs six more than HiguaÃÂn, RaÃÂºl, Huntelaar and Robben have managed all season. However, such a deal would probably make far too much financial sense for those at Castle Greyskull to contemplate. Negredo grabbed two more strikes on Sunday in a 2-1 win over Osasuna that lifts AlmerÃÂa seven points clear of the drop-zone. Espanyol As Christmas is just around the corner, letÃ¢ÂÂs be charitable and keep up the pretence that Espanyol will pick up the 13 points needed over the final seven games to stay up. HereÃ¢ÂÂs Paul from Barcelona. "Well, not a bad day's work but the omens were not good."Three-year-old match-day mascot David Edwards didn't want to go on the pitch with the team, probably scared by the Jolly Green Giant until someone pointed out that he wasn't the smallest person out there. So, after towering over Munitis and Pereira the match was able to get underway."Racing, from here on known as 'The Flying Elbows' had their five minutes of dominance and then it was one-way traffic. Espanyol took charge of the game and should have gone in ahead at half-time. "Second half, Espanyol charged head-first into Racing and were met with yet more elbows. They went ahead after a Nene free-kick was headed in by Ivan Alonso."Espanyol could have scored more and only really looked like throwing it away in the last five minutes. More due to nerves than anything Racing tried. So, overall, a totally deserved three points against a 'not as poor as Depor but not far off it' Racing."Espanyol to stay up if they play like that again whereas Racing are doomed if they keep playing like that."Stray cats - 0. Inappropriately placed crash barriers - 37.Ã¢ÂÂPaul, Barcelona. Pablo HernÃÂ¡ndezTo help silence the screams in La Liga LocaÃ¢ÂÂs head at night and bring forth sleep, it likes to imagine ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs line-up next season, once everything of any value has been flogged. The forward line currently consists of Zigic and Mata up front, with Vicente on the left and plucky Pablo HernÃÂ¡ndez on the right. JoaquÃÂnÃ¢ÂÂs replacement is still a relative newbie to la Liga but returned to the club he began at after a season with Getafe. However, every time Pablo has played for the Mestalla men he has earned his corn - especially considering the corn has been fairly scarce of late. The right midfielder joined the fight against Sevilla in the second half and was on hand to finish a breakaway move in injury-time as cool as a cucumber. Pablo could be playing a key role in next seasonÃ¢ÂÂs EasyValencia - the worldÃ¢ÂÂs first low-cost club.
HernÃÂ¡ndez wraps up victory for Valencia
BetisIf his arthritis wasnÃ¢ÂÂt so severe, the 217-year-old Paco Chaparro would have been kicking himself furiously on Sunday night. Along with most of his squad. Betis have now picked up two wins from two in the matches since poor Paco was handed his papers. The second was down to two strikes from Emana, who has now grabbed four in two to ensure firstly that Betis are in the top flight next season and more importantly that he wonÃ¢ÂÂt be there with them. DeportivoDespite their best efforts, a lucky late strike from Pablo Alvarez gives Deportivo their first win in five. BAD DAYRaÃÂºlAS plonked the Real Madrid captain in their own Bad Day section for his performance against Recreativo and gave him a spanking with no marks. Marca awarded him two out of three.Racing SantanderAs Paul from Barcelona pointed out, Racing were less than impressive on Sunday - but thatÃ¢ÂÂs been the case for a while now with the club managing just two wins from 11. But seeing as they were against Numancia and Sporting, they donÃ¢ÂÂt really count. Before the defeat to Espanyol, Racing were on 36 points but a tempting 9/1 to go down, due to them quietly going about their business of being bad. Those odds may be a little bit shorter today. SportingLa Liga Loca may have to change tack in its relegation predictions. A couple of weeks ago, it felt that Recre would be a dead-cert to go down. But the Huelvan side has shown some blood and guts in the recent matches against Sevilla, BarÃÂ§a and Real Madrid. Admittedly they lost them all.But itÃ¢ÂÂs a lot more than Sporting are currently serving up considering their recent record currently reads LLLLWWLLLL. The latest of these Ã¢ÂÂLÃ¢ÂÂs was SundayÃ¢ÂÂs 2-0 defeat to Betis in another flop of a performance and another failure to secure a draw.Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre going to stay up, IÃ¢ÂÂm convinced,Ã¢ÂÂ claimed Manolo Preciado after the game. La Liga Loca is not so sure. But it hopes it is wrong and that la PrimeraÃ¢ÂÂs finest fans will be back again next season. Athletic BilbaoLa Liga Loca has a fine Athletic supporting friend that likes to routinely blame their constant defeats on unfair red cards, turned-down penalties and mind control machines controlled from Castle Greyskull.But he may be lost for words on Monday after what was down-to-earth blind luck against Deportivo in a 1-0 home defeat. Athletic really shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be four points off the drop-zone, but they are.
Any Copa del Rey victory in May could be very sour indeed if their current awful run continues. Giuseppe RossiA missed penalty for the Villarreal man means that he has not scored in la Liga since the middle of February - a crisis mirrored by his side who have not mustered a league strike for three rounds now. England-based colleagues suspected that Villarreal were flimsy up front in the Big League from what they saw in the ties against Arsenal. The blog argued otherwise, but perhaps it was wrong to do so?