Monday's Good Day, Bad Day Ã¢ÂÂ Round 24
"Yes, the league is on!" squealed Mundo Deportivo, just a few days after dismally declaring claiming that all was lost. La Liga Loca recommends that all caffeine is removed from their offices to stop some overheated hack hurling himself out of the window, over the next three months."Barcelona are doing things well, but it doesn't mean they are playing well," opines the shy and retiring Johan Cruyff, who claims Frankie Rijkaard's side are "surviving". That sounds a fair assessment of team who squeezed outanother three points on Saturday night, in rathercontroversial circumstances, but are not yet showingthe kind of form needed to overhaul Real Madrid Ã¢ÂÂsomething Carles Puyol is fully aware of.
"The leagueis still tough. Five points is a lot," admitted thecurly-haired captain.Luis Fabiano
An INCREDIBLE 17 league goals from 16 starts for FabboFabiano (as The Sun would write it) has put Sevillaback on track for a Champions League place - somethingthat will stop club president, Del Nido, packing asandwich box, squatting on his drive and flogging theclub's wares on the transfer market, this summer.Villarreal and AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid - the two sidescurrently in the top four hot seats - are hardlyshowing the kind of form that suggests they are goingto stay there for the rest of the season.
Nevertheless, an awful lot rests on whether Sevillacan balance their league and European demands. And -to come over all Chandler Bing - can Freddie KanoutÃÂ©be any more miserable?Edu
Betis may only have one trick in the footballing boxbut it works a treat. Charge down the right, lob theball into the area and hope that Edu gets on the endof it.
And this has worked five times now in the league andhas helped the Betis striker to seven goals - a figurethat lifts the Brazilian into the club's all-time top10 goalscorers chart... with 30. Not that impressive,really. AS opened their English dictionary, on Monday, toconsider whether Betis are a 'one man club', asopposed to having a player who is a 'one club man'.And that sounds about right.
Still 10 points from safety and unlikely to beplaying the likes of Osasuna at home, every week,there is still no hope in Hades that Levante will stayup. But two wins in four - or two wins in 11, ifyou like - has given manager, Giovani di Biasi reasonsto be cheerful, having said that he has turned downoffers from Italy to stay with the Primera'sbottom-dwellers.
Although he should have been hacked down, the maziestof 80 yard runs from the Athletic Bilbaomidfielder set up his side's equalising goal in theCalderÃÂ³n - a ground where the Basque club had not wonfor eight years. "A magnificent move", beamed JoaquinCaparros after the game.Like Betis, Athletic Bilbao are still one defeat frombeing back in the relegation mire, but Sunday's awaywin was a very handy one, indeed.
Almeria's brilliant Brazilian stopper can wish for nogreater honour than appearing in La Liga Loca's goodday section for the second week running. Alves has nowgone 617 minutes (six games) without conceding a goal.
And that's a good thing, as AlmerÃÂa are not the mostprolific of sides with five of their last six winsbeing 1-0's Ã¢ÂÂ the most recent being against whatappeared to be against an unlucky Murcia.
The Murcia midfielder may have been on the losingside, but his beard is looking quite magnificent.
A cracking encounter, by all accounts, but some of theworst finishing seen this side of a trip to CarrowRoad. "Nobody wanted to score", claimed Marca on thegoalless draw between Villarreal and Racing Santander.
Leading the way in the misfiring forwards was theItalian young gun, whose normally reliable shootingprowess left him has he prodded a potentially matchwinning penalty wide of the post.
Villarreal still hanging on in there, in fourth,despite only one win in four. And La Liga Loca isstill to predict one of their results, correctly.
Cheaty Sevilla! Controversy for BarÃÂ§a! And Espanyol'sfifth defeat six! 'There Will be Blood!' cries Paulfrom Barcelona in a heavily-cleaned-up-for-the-wholesome-442-readership rant.
"Basically, the ref Delgado Ferreiro should besacked,a ****** embarrassment. Poulsen should havegone for two identical fouls as Zabaleta, who did getsent off. He booked De La PeÃÂ±a for a foul hecommitted. Should be investigated by UEFA and FIFA.
Diego Capel is a bigger cheat than Messi and Geovaniand half the player. You'll all come to hate him markmy words.
Sevilla are the most negative team I've seen. 10minutes of counter attack. 80 of 50 yard back passes.Palop kicked the ball more than any other player. Adisgrace, KanoutÃÂ© apart.
Delgado Ferreiro has actually made me question if Iwant to watch football any more. It really was thatbad. 'Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?' JohnLydon."
The handballs from Henry and Juanfran will no doubt bediscussed in the Madrid press for decades. And ignoredin the Catalan papers. "Barcelona's 'together we cando it' included the refereeing team", sniffed Marca.
But the whole affair was worth it just to seeJuanfran's bug-eyed hysterical reaction to the penaltyaward for his handball. Worthy of a part in a 28 WeeksLater sequel for its arm waving wackiness.
Aside from the full-back, another gentleman who was notat his best in his response to the late d'inho penaltywas Zaragoza president, Eduardo BandrÃÂ©s, who rantedhis way through the post match interview, Joe Pescistyle, whilst Joan Laporta stood alongside him withthat smug Mitt Romney look on his face that makes youwant to smack him with a frying pan.BandrÃÂ©s wasn't finished with his complaints anddeclared, on Sunday, that he would be writing a sternletter to the Federation about "our enormous disgustwith what happened in La Romareda, on Saturday night".Because that'll work.
'Get over it', 'Swings and Roundabouts' is the ratherstern and completely unhelpful message La Liga Locahas for the pumped up Presi.
Merciful Zeus. The most common words in the papers onMonday are 'AtlÃÂ©tico' and 'suicide', after theirspectacular 1-2 defeat to Athletic Bilbao. The matchsaw yet another red card for the rojiblancos - theclub with the worst disciplinary record in the league- and a tremendous rant from Enrique Cerezo.
"Playing like this, it will be difficult to holdfourth, fifth or even sixth place" fumed the clubpresident, after the match. "Not very helpful" was thegist of the reply from Antonio Lopez on the outburst.
La Liga Loca's dreams of weekly Champions Leaguefootball is starting to look rather bleak. Again.
Even if Gabriel Heinze has to have his legs strappedto stilts to hold them together, he will be proddedonto the pitch to take on Roma, on Tuesday, such wasMarcelo's performance against Betis, on Saturdaynight.
To be fair, he wasn't helped by team-mates who "couldhave killed the game off in the first half an hour",according to Mundo Deportivo, but failed to do so inspectacular style.
And as to the matter of why this happened, don't lookto Bernd Schuster for an answer. "It's not a questionfor me, it's for those out on the pitch," grumbled theGerman boss, who looked as if he had just had hisfavourite cat put down.
The Recreativo defender celebrated a thumping headedgoal by lifting up his shirt to show off his tattoo.Cue second yellow card and cue his marching orders.Fortunately, his team-mates were playing Deportivo socame away with a 3-2 win.