Good Day, Bad Day: Angry Pep ‘not angry’ and Levante’s heavyweight hero

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Good Day

Roberto Soldado
Fernando Torres’ comedy blunder against Manchester United may have edged the Valencia striker a rung nearer the Chelsea man’s spot in the Spanish side after Soldado’s fifth goal in just three league games gave the Mestalla men a table-topping victory against Sporting. It was the second of two solitary strikes from successive 1-0 wins for Soldado that sees Valencia riding high like Sergio Ramos in an airplane bathroom.

Pep Guardiola

The time really is getting close to nigh for Pep to leave his Dream Boys and start a solo career as there are certain, unfortunate Mourinho-like qualities creeping into his psyche. Before Saturday’s Osasuna match, the Barça boss was bickering with a Marca journalist - a complete waste of anyone’s time - and after the 8-0 destruction which should have been a Pep happy time there was a touch of the tin-foil beanie hat about Guardiola’s “let’s be ‘avin ya” reaction to the result with his claim that “there’s a lot of people who don’t want us to win.”
“They want to see me angry but they’ve still not managed it,” declared Pep angrily. “I’m very happy with my players and the only thing I can do is defend them.”


Sergio Ballesteros
The Levante centre-back may be carrying a little bit of extra timber, be a tad slow and go to ground rather easily when shoved by belligerent Germans, but Ballesteros led a wonderful defensive display from a Levante back four who had a combined age of 138, in front of a goalkeeper who was not having one of his best evenings. Levante are a dirty old bunch who do whatever they can to get a result, but when you are dealing with opponents possessing a TV income that’s 10 times bigger than yours, then one cuts one’s cloth accordingly.

A miserable two year spell of injury for the Ivorian striker is hopefully behind Koné after his cracking winning strike against Madrid.

The finishing in the 1-0 away win at Mallorca wasn’t quite up to the standard of Monday’s victory over Granada but Manuel Pellegrini’s side did more than enough to earn three very handy points on their travels.

Freddie Kanouté
The winning strike in a narrow 1-0 win against Real Sociedad saw the Malian forward enjoying his 100th victory for Sevilla. Saturday’s match was a fairly even affair - which says a lot about the progress la Real have made over the summer - but Kanouté’s touch of class made the difference.

It is a tribute to the all round nice guy nature of Villarreal that the scorer of Granada’s first league goal of the season, Ikechukwu Uche, is a Villarreal player loaned out to the Primera newcomers for the year. Villarreal will certainly be regretting the decision not to jam a non-playing clause into the Nigerian’s contract which would have prevented him from featuring on Saturday and scoring the only goal in a deserving 1-0 win for Granada. Juan Carlos Garrido now has to work out if someone has put non-playing clauses on every one of his own side instead.

The big lad up front for Rayo had a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside against Zaragoza last weekend, but the striker’s towering header to beat Getafe after just four minutes was a good ‘un, as was the overall performance of the striker  - industrious and committed, two words which sum up Rayo’s impressive start to the season which sees five points from the side’s opening three games.

‘Blistering’ and ‘ferocious’ were the words that popped into a gasping LLL’s tiny mind on Sunday night - as well as ‘11pm’, ‘Sunday’ and too late for football’ as it watched the 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao that sees Betis sharing the lead at the top of the table with Valencia.


Heck, if even the renowned cynical, old misery guts LLL is starting to believe that there could be something special going on at Atlético Madrid then it really is time for the Rojiblanco massive to either start getting sticky with excitement or really worry.
Racing Santander were torn a new one on Sunday with Falcao grabbing a hat-trick to go with the goal against Celtic three days previously. However, it was all round loveliness from the Vicente Calderón club with Diego and Arda continuing to settle in very well indeed.

A bit of breathing space for coach, Javier Aguirre, with Luis García popping up in injury time to give Zaragoza their first points of the season against his former club Espanyol.

Bad Day

Real Madrid
It seems that José Mourinho is caught between blaming his footballers for losing their heads and joining in a hacking match against Levante and the instinctive urge to have a pop at the referee. In truth the man-in-the-middle could have sent a whole load of players off including Juanlu and Angel di María for their respective lunges and especially Rubén for a rather brutal hack on Cristiano Ronaldo. And then there was Pepe and so on and so on.
The point is that the lack of goals in two games against Levante in their ground last season wasn’t a big enough warning for the Madrid players a season later with the Santiago Bernabeu club immediately losing the advantage the side had against Barcelona with Sunday’s surprising defeat.

Sami Khedira
“Players need to be sufficiently intelligent to avoid situations like this,” noted Mourinho on Sami Khedira’s rash decision to push over Sergio Ballesteros when the German already had a yellow card. Although Madrid already had enough quality on the pitch to overcome Levante even when down to ten men, Khedira’s petulance certainly didn’t help matters at all.  

The Yellow Submarine are still punch drunk from their opening day thrashing by Barcelona which really has knocked the stuffing out of the east coast side, who are now second-from-bottom of the table with just a single point from nine. The midweek loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League certainly can’t have helped either although Villarreal do have only themselves to blame for not even picking up a point against Granada with Giuseppe Rossi hitting a penalty against a post and Jonathan De Guzman slicing the rebound wide. Villarreal’s home game against Mallorca on Tuesday is already looking like a whopper.

‘Quite hopeless’ was the gist of the prevailing wind of LLL’s feeling from the Coliseum after seeing Getafe’s 1-0 defeat to visiting Rayo. That also was the sensation from manager, Luís García, who despite coming into the press conference looking fairly chirpy was not a happy man. “The first half was a disaster on the ball,” admitted the former Levante boss, “we missed every pass.”

‘Oh no!’ bemoans LLL clutching its face dramatically in an homage to both Macaulay Culkin and Angel di María. A third defeat from three for poor Sporting leaves the sorry Gijón side at the bottom of the table without a point and without much hope of getting one if the performance against Valencia was any indication. Sporting were their usual industrious selves but when it came to creating chances the team were as clueless as Víctor Valdés when being asked anger management tips. “We’re having trouble producing attacking football,” noted an under pressure Sporting boss, Manuel Preciado.

Athletic Bilbao
“Biesla has turned lions into cats” was the lament from one Athletic Bilbao fan complaining about the failing tactical revolution in the Basque Country that saw Athletic torn apart at times by Betis in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat and still without a win in la Liga.