La Liga Loca has a feeling in its special place that something fishy is going on. Very fishy. Just when there was a clamour in Spain for Barcelona and Real Madrid to open the vault to their Manhattan-sized safes and hand out some cash to the paupers of la Primera to even things out a little, both teams have suddenly and ever so accidentally become a little careless of late.
So careless, in fact, that the complaints of the Spanish league being the most unbalanced and hopeless - and sh*t, as Sevilla would put it - in the world have disappeared completely ever since Barcelona and Real Madrid decided to become extremely charitable on the pitch rather than with their cheque books.
But with the responsible blog having to make the assumption that all this craziness isnÃ¢ÂÂt an elaborate ruse from Sandro Rosell and Florentino PÃÂ©rez, LLL must note that Real Madrid are blooming awful at the moment and no excuse in the world that JosÃÂ© Mourinho can come up with can hide it. Though the Madrid boss did his level best to blame both the opposition and referee for WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs goalless draw against an injury-battered Racing, as well as his own team. Ã¢ÂÂTheir cartload of injuries, tackles and simulations they were allowed meant we couldnÃ¢ÂÂt get the necessary rhythm,Ã¢ÂÂ complained Mourinho.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs been a tough week for Marca too, with the paper having to find alternate front covers in reaction to MadridÃ¢ÂÂs double failures to Levante and Racing. On Monday morning the European Championship winning Spanish basketball team made the headlines. Three days later and FalcaoÃ¢ÂÂs performance in AtlÃÂ©tico MadridÃ¢ÂÂs 4-0 win over Sporting is suddenly of interest to the paper who have had to lock away their Ã¢ÂÂCristiano is a machine!Ã¢ÂÂ headlines for a while. With the paperÃ¢ÂÂs editorial also focussing on the Rojiblancos, itÃ¢ÂÂs up to AS to run around in a blind panic on Thursday instead.
Ã¢ÂÂIs there internal division in the dressing room? Are the Spanish upset with the ostracism of Albiol, Granero and, as of yesterday, Sergio Ramos?Ã¢ÂÂ questioned a confused TomÃÂ¡s Roncero after Raphael Varane stood in for the injured Pepe and Alvaro Arbeloa took RamosÃ¢ÂÂ rampaging spot on the right. Ã¢ÂÂLast night, the team were like their shirt. Black on the outside and on the inside,Ã¢ÂÂ fretted the down-in-the-dumps AS man.
The damage to Real MadridÃ¢ÂÂs title hopes were lessoned a little by BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs 2-2 draw at Valencia, though Ã¢ÂÂthe imageÃ¢ÂÂ as they say in Spain of the two teamsÃ¢ÂÂ performances was contrasting. While Real Madrid managed just two shots on target all match and played the game as if it was a cup second leg in which they held a 7-0 lead, Barcelona rolled up their sleeves in a wonderful slugging match with Valencia that ended in a 2-2 draw.
Indeed the game could have ended in a win for Valencia and Barcelona with Roberto Soldado missing a sitter from two yards with the home side 2-1 up and Guaita pulling out the stops to block Barcelona in the final minutes of a marvel of a match in Mestalla.
Ã¢ÂÂA draw is a point,Ã¢ÂÂ admits LluÃÂs MascarÃÂ³ in Sport, Ã¢ÂÂbut not all draws are worth the same. There are draws of champions, luxury draws like Barcelona managed in Mestalla last night. Then there are painful, crappy draws like MadridÃ¢ÂÂs in Santander.Ã¢ÂÂ
The slip-up from both teams - predestined or not - sees Valencia at the top of the table, but with Betis having the remarkable chance to be league leaders if they manage the very achievable goal of beating Zaragoza at home on Thursday night. If so, then the southern side will also go above second-placed, MÃÂ¡laga who made it three wins from three with a 1-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao to make Manuel Pellegrini a very chilled Chilean indeed with his former club Real Madrid two points behind.
Despite MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs less than heartfelt reasons for jamming Falcao onto ThursdayÃ¢ÂÂs front cover, thereÃ¢ÂÂs good reason to be very excited at the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n these days, after AtlÃÂ©tico managed back-to-back 4-0 victories, with Falcao grabbing five goals in the wins over Racing and Sporting. Ã¢ÂÂThe team is working for him and he is working for the team,Ã¢ÂÂ said a pleased-as-punch Gregorio Manzano after the match. Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂs a useful player and one that our fans can enjoy.Ã¢ÂÂ
It was a bad night for MadridÃ¢ÂÂs third side Rayo who fell to a 2-1 defeat to visiting Levante who have now picked up six points in their last two games. The scorer of second goal was the now legendary figure of Sergio Ballesteros who has become the centre of a Twitter trending campaign to get the super-sized stopper called up to the Spanish squad.
To be fair, itÃ¢ÂÂs no stranger a concept that the other bizarre events that have been going on la Liga this week.
Results - Round 5Osasuna 0-0 SevillaReal Sociedad 1-0 GranadaVillarreal 2-0 MallorcaAtlÃÂ©tico Madrid 4-0 SportingMÃÂ¡laga 1-0 Athletic BilbaoRayo 1-2 LevanteRacing 0-0 Real MadridValencia 2-2 BarcelonaEspanyol v Getafe - ThursdayBetis v Zaragoza - Thursday