The Catalans are seven points clear, Madrid face a stubborn Malaga and Gary Neville aims to keep Valencia's momentum going. Tim Stannard looks forward to another weekend of Spanish action...
Take that Johnny Foreigner! It was Rule España in the Europa League, with Marca declaring a “Perfect Storm” after 13 goals were scored and none conceded by the four Spanish sides in the competition – as well as a couple of big boys taken down such as Marseille and Napoli.
Before we continue, though, loud applause please for Aritz Aduriz, who continues to defy age at 35 with belters like below.
Everyone is back in Spain now for a weekend that has some intrigue to it: a couple of testing away trips for Barcelona and Real Madrid, what could be a rip in the fabric of space-time boredom at the Vicente Calderón and a triumphant Gary Neville riding into the gates of Granada on an elephant.
Will Neville’s Valencia move up from Stone Roses stage of celebration?
LLL is now setting up a ‘Madchester Celebro’meter’ for Neville. After suffering such abject misery in the Valencia hot seat, including the 7-0 demolition by Barcelona just a week ago, the Englishman now has back-to-back victories to celebrate.
The first was against Espanyol last weekend – a fairly tight, squeaky affair – but the second was a handsome win in the Europa League which produced five goals in 35 minutes against Rapid Vienna as part of an eventual 6-0 victory. Breathtaking stuff.
After the league win against the Pericos, Neville was a proper grim northerner by claiming that there was no cause for celebration whatsoever – a touch of bleak Stone Roses to his vibe, perhaps. And despite the huge win in Europe in front of a home crowd, there wasn’t even an extra biscuit with the evening cocoa; Neville said that victories are not to be celebrated mid-season, and that feet must be kept on the ground ahead of the next game.
That clash is away at a struggling Granada team, which is set to be another tight affair. So, it looks like the ‘Madchester Celebro’ meter will only be set to its highest mark – Happy Mondays getting a £50 million 10-album deal celebration party – if the east coast club win the Europa League and get into the Champions League by the back door.
Repeat performance from Ronaldo needed at murky Málaga
Well hats in the air for Cristiano Ronaldo, whose goal cleared the cheque that Tuesday’s walkout ended up writing.
After getting a little shirty over a question concerning his record away from home, the Portuguese Man O’Phwoar responded with a beautiful effort to set Real Madrid on their way to a 2-0 win at Roma. His goal could help see his club through a European knockout clash against an Italian team for the first time in nine attempts.
“Zidanes and Ronaldos” declared the front cover of Thursday’s Marca, as Francisco Pavon heard his name partly being taken in vain again.
A repeat performance is required in Málaga against a team that can be stubborn old mules on home soil, seeing that a midweek win for Barcelona – another missed penalty, of course – gives the Catalan club a whopping seven point lead over Team Zizou.
The league leaders themselves are going to be whacking an ankle tag onto Neymar: Barça are off to play Las Palmas, with the annual carnival festival having kicked off on Thursday.
Will Clockwork Orange glasses be required for Calderón clash?
The Rojiblancos are built on a platform of scoring about one goal per game and shutting up shop. The Villarreal gameplay is built on a platform of scoring about one goal per game and shutting up shop.
Indeed, Villarreal have taken this approach to a new level, with their past four results being three 1-0 wins and a goalless draw. The most recent narrow victory was against Napoli, although it feels like it may not be enough to carry the team through against an Italian side that are fairly gung-ho in comparison to most Serie A sides.
At least the Yellow Submarine will have practice at repelling all borders against the best in Sunday’s closed-up clash.
Can Levante lift themselves for Friday's ‘re-final’ against Getafe?
Angel Trujillo reportedly refused to travel to last weekend’s Eibar game after being left out of the squad that faced Barcelona the week before
With no wacky storylines this week to set up the Getafe portion of Friday’s big night with bottom-of-the-table Levante, LLL resorted to ploughing through the Valencia club's latest hi-jinks and found a true gem.
It turns out that there was a bit of a to-do with defender Angel Trujillo, who reportedly refused to travel to last weekend’s Eibar game after being left out of the squad that faced Barcelona the week before. The club have opened a disciplinary case against the stopper, who has not so much denied the incident by claiming that “I have told my truth to the club”.
It’s an approach that rarely seems to work with Ms. La Liga Loca.
Coach Rubi spoke on Thursday to say that the matter was closed for him, Trujillo was back in the fold and he was looking ahead to the Getafe match. Indeed, the Levante boss made the blog a very happy entity indeed by noting that if the previous clash against Eibar, which ended in a defeat, was a final, then Friday’s game was a ‘re-final’. LLL salutes you, Coach Rubi.
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