Missing out Madrid, spa life for Levante, Málaga on a mission

When is a run-of-the-mill 1-1 draw away from home not a run-of-the-mill 1-1 draw away from home? When Real Madrid are involved, that’s when.

A referee evidently not especially fond of backchat, along with some inadvisable gestures and comments from members of Real Madrid’s coaching team and players saw about 29 red cards dished out to the capital city club during Wednesday’s clash in El Madrigal, and a whole host of conspiracy cries from the local Madrid press. Just for a change.

However, seeing as no-one from Real Madrid spoke about the kerfuffle after the match, and no-one will be speaking about it ahead of the Real Sociedad clash on Saturday, La Liga Loca will gloss over the matter and instead discuss more deserving subjects such as Levante, the chase for fourth place in Liga and a big away win for Mallorca.

Aside from Real Madrid, Wednesday night’s other big losers were Athletic Bilbao, Sporting and Valencia. The Mestalla men were probably the pick of the bunch though, having lost 2-1 to bottom-of-the-table Zaragoza in what was a truly disastrous result for Unai Emery, whose spell at at the east coast club really looks like having come to an end. The Valencia manager was once again booed from the field by handkerchief-waving fans, but was still a particularly positive porpoise about the future. “The handkerchieves will be returned back to their bags, I believe in the team and there are solutions,” promised Emery after the game.

Valencia’s neighbours Levante managed to move within three points of their big brothers after a tremendous 3-1 win over Real Sociedad, the team’s fourth victory in five matches. To celebrate hitting what they still considered their survival target, with Levante now on 42 points, the players were taken on a relaxing spa day involving tennis. Probably a far cry from what the hard-working footballers were really hoping for.

Sporting had an awful result, with a 3-2 home defeat to relegation rivals Mallorca, who are starting to do rather well under Joaquín Caparrós. The result leaves Sporting four points from safety and there must be concerns that the club’s dithering defence will spell the end of the team’s Primera tenure, which would be a great shame.

“We are conceding sloppy goals, there needs to be greater forcefulness at the back,” complained Clemente whose spell at the club so far seems to consist of all talk and no results-driven trousers.

Athletic Bilbao appear to have completely run out of energy and legs and suffered their third defeat in a row at Atlético Madrid. However, Marcelo Bielsa, was not going to use that or referees as excuse for the dropped points - LLL coughs ‘ are you listening José Mourinho’ - and instead blames himself for the defeat. “I feel especially responsible due to the decisions I took which did not modify nor fix what needed to be corrected.”

The three matches on Thursday saw Sevilla pull out of a bit of a nosedive with a 3-0 away win at Racing Santander, Betis drawing 1-1 with Espanyol, whilst Málaga continued with what is looking like a successful push for a Champions League spot with a 4-2 win over Rayo to leave the side with four victories from the team’s last five games.