Tim Stannard sews up the weekend's action as Real Madrid lose to their cross-town rivals...
On a Monday, La Liga Loca generally likes to run its fingers through the hair of the less glamorous teams of La Liga, and whisper reassuring insults or compliments. But the Madrid derby was just too all consuming in terms of mad stuff going on. Even before Cristiano Ronaldo downed a gallon of truth serum before meandering into the Real Madrid mixed zone.
So apologies all round to Getafe fans dying to hear about defeat number six in a row. Or the Villarreal clan whose incredible campaign continues with a 3-0 win over Levante to see the Yellow Submarine with Real Madrid in its periscope sights, just two points away.
The Yellow Submarine has Real Madrid in its periscope sights, just two points away
And sorry to the Gary Neville brigade, whose Valencia side had a funny few minutes and lost 3-0 at home to Athletic Bilbao, a match with a long-awaited goal for Iker Muniain. Oh, there’s also Granada who won away under their new coach, Jose Gonzalez. And not enough time to coo over poor Málaga, a team that lost points for a second week in a row to an offside goal, this time Real Sociedad kicking the team in the football goolies. Today, LLL gives in to the masses to talk Madrid derby...
Flo gets bothered by boo boys
Not that LLL is anyone to talk, but when one is not particularly good at something and has proven it consistently, then it's better to simply stop and find another hobby. Florentino Pérez might find that making model airplanes, drone-racing or turtle-fancying is more of his beef because he is wholly hopeless at running a football club.
Actually, scrap the model airplane idea. The Madrid head honcho will probably glue the body of a Dreamliner to the wings of a Stealth fighter in the aim of making a ‘super plane’ and see the entire structure crash to the ground, before proceeding to repeat the same mistake again, and again, and again.
The Atlético Madrid defeat on Saturday marked 10 years from when the reign of Florentino Pérez I ended, with the club president noting that the players hadn't been brought up correctly. A decade on and Pérez may have been reminded of that moment when hearing the calls for his resignation from the stands after a third league defeat in a row in the Bernabéu to the Rojiblancos, and yet another failed attempt to beat Diego Simeone’s side.
Title race... over
The result was so dispiriting on the latest derby debacle that Zinedine Zidane completely threw in the towel on the title race
When the Madrid president fired Carlo Ancelotti back in the summer – as well as admitting that he didn’t really know why he was sacking him – Florentino also complained about a steady decline in the team’s performances. Quite what Pérez makes of the situation now is anyone’s guess but the result was so dispiriting that Zinedine Zidane completely threw in the towel on the title race, despite a promise the day before to fight on no matter what happened.
Indeed, the irritated French boss even looked bleak about his own future, commenting on what needed to happen over the summer. “There could be a change of manager, too,” Zizou noted glumly.
It wasn’t as if Atlético Madrid had done anything especially wondrous and ground-breaking to put the home side off their game either: they kept it tight at the back, and were aggressive in midfield with the occasional counter-attack. They even gave Real Madrid a gimme by starting with Fernando Torres. But what Atlético had is something that not even Pérez can by, no matter how hard he may try. In the words of Simeone, the visitors had “pride, desire and passion” – three commodities completely lacking in the Real Madrid side these days.
The fact that there was a sense of irritation among the big-hitters in the Madrid squad was evident even before Cristiano Ronaldo’s complaint about the quality of his team-mates and the medical services at the club. Sergio Ramos seemed to be doing his level best to get sent off, picking up a yellow card in injury-time which means he's suspended for Wednesday’s match at Levante.
Cristiano keeps himself honest
The problem is that it was Ronaldo doing it and he has little credit in the bank when it comes to there being a ‘Me’ in ‘Team’
For the most part, what Ronaldo said was quite correct and there should have been little need for swift backtracking. But backtrack he did about 'fitness levels' once Twitter blew up and he found some of the fringe players of the team standing outside his house, dressed in white and smoking like the Guilty Remnant in The Leftovers.
Indeed, managers complain about injuries, big players being missing and how the opposition were better than them on a constant basis, without too much grief. The problem is that it was Ronaldo doing it and he has little credit in the bank when it comes to there being a ‘me’ in ‘team’. After all, this was the footballer who admitted a fortnight ago that being friends with team-mates is not necessary and sometimes elects not to celebrate Madrid goals if he didn't score them himself.
Ronaldo's comments merely made an already-problematic situation even worse. As Ernest Folch, Director of Sport writes: “The real destination of Cristiano’s words are not his team-mates but Florentino, whom he directly blames for not having created a competitive team.” It’s a comment that Spanish radio station, COPE, says will lead to Ronaldo’s ejection from the Bernabéu this summer. It’s unlikely that the Portuguese poacher will be that bothered.
Barça’s bogeymen make life tough again
Sevilla are such a peculiar side. Unai Emery’s men are in fifth, one of the few teams that really push Barcelona hard but have yet to win on the road in La Primera all season. The Andalusians failed again, but there were excuses: they were in the Camp Nou and Barça had to battle very hard indeed to grab the 2-1 win that gives them an eight-point lead at the top of the table over Atleti. “It’s strange how this side have not won away,” said Luis Enrique, agreeing with the blog but probably not realising or caring if he ever found out.
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) February 28, 2016
Quite rightly, Enrique was refusing to get too carried away by the lead at the top of the table and a unbeaten record now extended to 34 games – likely to become 35 on Thursday with bi-annual slaughter of the gung-ho go-getters of Rayo Vallecano.