Goals, glitches and giggles in La Liga with Tim Stannard...
Was it Getafe at the Camp Nou, losing by six ridiculously good goals started by Leo Messi’s Panenka penalty? Or was it Almería, who allowed Alvaro Arbeloa of all people to score in a 3-0 at the Bernabéu – his first goal in 164 league appearances since February 2010?
Following in behind the apparently lost right-back, Cristiano Ronaldo seemed curiously miffed that his diligent colleague had bagged his first goal in half a decade – but the fact that most of the Madrid bench seemed to find the concept of a goal quite hilarious suggests that we have a popular winner in the bearded, one-man Mourinho fan club.
Actually, if LLL was being really, really uncharitable and rather unnecessary, it could joke that Villarreal ended up being the worst culprits, having allowed Fernando Torres to score in a 1-0 loss in El Madrigal...
The top two took very different approaches to the comfortable-looking games and lulls in the title run-in. Barça went for Getafe’s jugular, perhaps spooked by a team with a weird ability to make life difficult for the Catalan club. Madrid chose – or were forced into – a fairly unusual line-up due to injuries and suspensions. Barcelona had the game tied up early doors, while Madrid didn’t manage to get proper traction until the second half.
Although Atlético's 1-0 win at Villarreal might go a little unnoticed, it was potentially one of the best results of the season for the tiring Rojiblancos, desperate to drag themselves over the line into third, despite pursuit by Valencia and Sevilla.
The El Madrigal clash was heading towards a goalless draw before a blunder from Eric Bailly, who has always looked a little bit suspect since joining the Yellow Submarines with perpetual lapses of concentration. “We threw away all that hard work with just one action that shouldn’t have happened,” fumed Marcelino The Manager.
Bailly’s lack of rear-view mirrors allowed Nando through on goal, whereupon the striker weaved around the keeper, sent one defender flying off the pitch and rolled the ball past another on the line. Now that all sounds fine and dandy, but the whole process for the Atlético man seemed to take an age, with growing fears that Torres would end up missing an open goal from four yards. But not this time.
“He finished the chance off with impressive coolness,” noted an approving Diego Simeone. “We needed this and he needed this,” quoth the Argentinian, who celebrated his 200th match in charge of Atlético.
Valencia face Rayo Vallecano on Thursday – all very confusing, considering the team also played on Monday – but Sevilla kept on moving on up out of the darkness, and their light shines on. Poor, bedraggled Eibar were the victims this time, losing 3-1 in Ipurua, to leave the team just two points from the relegation zone after just the single win in 16 league games. “It almost feels shameful to not give back what the fans are giving us,” said downbeat manager Gaizka Garitano, who probably needs a big hug.
The final two matches of the round, on Thursday, see Valencia taking on Rayo in a match where literally anything could happen. Not literally-literally, but cliché-literally. Meanwhile, Granada have an absolute whopper of a match at home to Espanyol, in which the Andalusians – now six points from safety with five to go – need a win for even the tiniest hope of survival.
You may be aware of FFT's FIFA glitches in real life blog, but another entry presented itself last night...