Monday’s Good Day, Bad Day - Round 15

GOOD DAYVíctor ValdésIt’s high time La Liga Loca paid its dues to the one player that even the most barmy of Barça fans would still see swiftly swapped for an Iker Casillas-shaped shot stopper, if the chance ever came up.Valdés’s clean sheet on Saturday means that Barcelona have yet to concede a goal in their mini league of mayhem against Sevilla, Valencia and Real Madrid. The much-mocked Barça goalie only really had to make proper saves on two occasions, against Drenthe and Palanca, but he did what he had to do when the time came. The Madrid press claim that Barcelona weren’t at their best on Saturday night, but this humble blog thought they played at a fairly decent level, but were blocked out by a team desperate not to be given a hefty hiding.

Valdes celebrates getting one over nemesis Casillas 

La Liga Loca has previously rambled away on Barcelona’s patience this season, and it will do so again as Pep’s Dream Boys kept on pushing forward for the whole match, perhaps in a more constructive manner towards the end of the game than in the first half.

“We wanted to run faster than the ball,” complained Guardiola on his team’s frenzied start to the game. With an eight-point lead over their nearest challengers, the league looks done and dusted, which is a bit of a shame considering the high hopes everyone had for a four-way funfest at the beginning of the season. When does Big Brother start again?Metzelder, CannavaroReal Madrid fans may have been watching the first 15 minutes of Saturday’s game from behind the sofa - or perhaps the chaise longue - considering the ostentatious opulence of the Bernabeu fanbase, but some fantastic work from both Metzelder and Cannavaro may have drawn them out. Before the match the omens were not good for the centre back pairing. The slow, sluggish German had barely featured this season, while Fabio Cannavaro had spent the campaign tossing himself about like Ever Banega on Miss Spain night.But their better-late-than-never interventions meant that both Eto’o and Messi were pale presences for much of the game - well, someone had to be without Iniesta. Heck, even Fernando Gago looked good - the first time La Liga Loca has ever written those words.

Cannavaro lunges left to thwart Abidal... just 

Atlético Madrid

“We are recovering from the unfortunate start to the league we had,” beamed Javier Aguirre after Sunday night’s 2-0 win over Betis that puts Atleti back into Champions League contention - because the rojiblancos have had so much fun this year. Most importantly of all, the three points lifts the rojiblancos above Real Madrid. Sadly, Deportivo could not complete their part of the winning bargain to give much of Spain even more of a giggle on Monday morning. ValenciaLa Liga Loca would like to give a detailed breakdown of Valencia’s hard-fought win over Espanyol on Saturday night. But it can’t. And that’s thanks to, TV station, La Sexta’s (more on them later) blatantly rubbish attempts to broadcast the game. The action from the Mestalla was constantly interrupted by advertisements, split-screens or fascinating shots of Barcelona players driving into the Camp Nou car park sporting natty winter hats. They didn’t even bother broadcasting the final 10 minutes of the encounter. If it was a Deportivo game, then La Liga Loca would have been grateful. But instead, this was quite a crucial clash both at the top and bottom of the table. SevillaAnother side doing fairly well in their mini-marathon against the big boys. The 1-0 win over Villarreal - a victory that should have been a whole lot bigger, no thanks to an off-form Fabiano and Kanouté - gives Sevilla seven points from their four fearsome matches and moves them into third, equal with Valencia. While, president, José del Nido’s cracking claims that “Manolo Jiménez is the best coach in the world and this is the best team in the world,” may be a tad exaggerated, Sevilla continue to be a solid but unspectacular side. GetafeGetafe’s opening goal in the 4-1 win over Mallorca owed a great deal to a huge 9.9 point dive from Uche, but Getafe’s previously shot shy strike force has been warming up nicely with seven goals in two games, to go with the four against Real Madrid and Barcelona. Pedro LópezOne day, Valladolid’s right-back is going to have a YouTube reel that will lead to a billion dollar move to Barcelona. His only goal for Valladolid last season was a thunderbusting thwack to beat Iker Casillas. And his only strike so far this year was Sunday’s chip over the despairing Deportivo keeper from near the halfway line. BAD DAYRafael Van der VaartWhether a losing-it La Liga Loca is coming down with something serious or is feeling uncharacteristically charitable, but it feels a little bit bad for putting Madrid into this bad day bracket. But, hey ho, anyway. Despite Saturday’s defeat that sees Real sink to sixth, it was a gutsy performance from most of the side - with Guti the notable exception - but the match was a big black mark against the name of Rafael Van der Vaart. And deservedly so. Although the Dutch midfielder had a bright start to the season, the former Hamburger has done diddly-squat to justify his reputation as a midfield maestro. On the pitch, he is prone to vanishing from games whilst off it, Van der Vaart has a reputation for moodiness. Juande Ramos’s decision to field an unfit Wesley Sneijder and then, newbie, Miguel Palanca speaks volumes over how little faith the new manager has in the Dutch disaster.

Van der Vaart: Heroic at Hamburg, a Dutch disaster for Real 

Carlos Gurpegui

A good day for Athletic with a 3-0 over Sporting in wet, freezing conditions, but a very bad one indeed for poor old Carlos Gurpegui. With five minutes left in the game, the midfielder came on to replace Fran Yeste, but only lasted two minutes after being stretchered off with a broken nose and concussion after a horrific clash of heads with, Sporting keeper, Iván Cuéllar. “The injury to Gurpegui means that we are not 100% happy,” admitted, Athletic boss, Joaquín Caparrós after their third home win in a row. Espanyol It’s time for a rare but always welcome edition of ‘Paul from Barcelona leaves the Catalan capital to watch Espanyol lose’. This time, our pain-loving Perico has been to Valencia to watch a 2-1 defeat. “The opportunity for free stuff doesn't come along very often for yours truly. So when the lovely Laura told us she knew Unai Emery and called him there and then, free tickets were ours.That is why, dear readers, I attended yet another away match just for the blog.A not-full-by-a-long-way stadium with about 200 Espanyol fans "swelling" the crowd.Espanyol set out their stall by being very defensive and hitting Valencia on the break and took the lead through Roman Martinez. Then, in a Barça style refereeing decision, the man in the middle sent off Rufete for two yellow cards. One for a foul that wasn't a foul and the second for a handball that was more bad control than anything else.

Here's the painful bit, the ref didn't even see it. His view was blocked. So, with echoes of the Nene incident, we are down to 10 men and the big team who had not been playing well has a lifeline.You can guess the rest. Two second half goals gave Valencia victory. The second was good by Vicente. Espanyol had defended very well and deserved a point. Kameni and Jarque stood out.Two strikers for Xmas please Santa and an investigation into why we've had two players sent off against big teams while we were leading when the four so-called fouls should have amounted to just one yellow.Barça beware. You have competition in the crap fans league.”

Paul, Barcelona MallorcaOh dear. The 4-1 loss to Getafe may be the end of Gregorio Manzano’s reign at the Ono Estadi. Especially after his pre-match comments complaining of the side’s financial problems. “The club is in an untenable situation,” grumbled the soon-to-be-unemployed coach.OsasunaThe 1-0 away defeat to Recreativo had to hurt for Osasuna. But thanks to the scrappy nature of the bottom of the table, the season is not yet done and dusted for the Pamplonans who are just five points from safety, despite having won just one game all season. “We played like we’ve never done before but lost as always,” sobbed, manager, José Antonio Camacho after their latest loss. Joseba LlorenteLa Liga Loca has no idea what was barking up the Villarreal striker’s biscuit on Sunday, but Llorente looked like he was in an enormous strop as soon as the game started. Llorente saw red after two bad challenges - the second a high-footed shocker - and then preceded to pick arguments with much of the Sevilla side whilst flouncing off the pitch in the heftiest of huffs.

Llorente strops off after seeing red at Sevilla 

La Sexta

This rant will not make much sense to those readers outside of Spain, but here goes anyway. It’s hard to fathom how the channel can simultaneously be so good at covering football, and so bad. Their Super Saturday-style minute-by-minute show on Sunday evening is a joy to watch thanks to the genius presenter Patxi Alonso - whose wardrobe department picked out a t-shirt with the inexplicable slogan: ‘Who the f*** is Mick Jagger?’ for this weekend’s programme.But their coverage of live matches reached a new low on Saturday night, firstly for their terrible treatment of the Valencia game and for their frequent fondness of covering up the entire screen during the Camp Nou clash with pointless graphics telling you Guti has run 4.2km and that Barcelona are seventh best in La Liga for winning right-sided corners. And that’s not even mentioning, lead commentator, Andrés Montes. The channel's appalling derby coverage was a uniting factor for papers both in Barcelona and Madrid who branded the transmission as dismal in their Sunday editions. 

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