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Good Day, Bad Day: Barça blow title & Ronaldo gets a BFF

RESULTS Sat 11 Feb Racing Santander 0-0 Atlético Madrid; Osasuna 3-2 Barcelona; Real Betis 2-1 Athletic Bilbao Sun 12 Feb Espanyol 0-2 Real Zaragoza; Málaga 3-1 Mallorca; Rayo Vallecano 2-0 Getafe; Valencia 4-0 Sporting Gijón; Villarreal 3-1 Granada; Real Madrid 4-2 Levante Mon 13 Feb 8pm Real Sociedad v Sevilla


Marca's readers regularly vote the preening Portuguese âÂÂplayer of the weekâ no matter what he's done. For instance, Ronaldo topped the poll after last week's 1-0 win over Getafe â when he wasnâÂÂt even the best player for Real Madrid, never mind the best in the division.

For once, he may well deserve the accolade after Sunday's hat-trick against Levante â his sixth treble this season. But what really seemed to make Ronaldo smile from ear to perfectly-tanned ear was that the Santiago Bernabeu crowd sang the footballerâÂÂs name for once, making them officially BFF.

Real Madrid
LLL supposes the team gets a Good Day slot, what with the whole probably-winning-the-league business after BarcelonaâÂÂs defeat.

LetâÂÂs just say that, after WednesdayâÂÂs cup knock-out against Barcelona, anything other than a home victory against Sporting would have been very unpopular among the fans. It may have taken an own goal and two in added time, but Valencia delivered.

Lost at Real Madrid but their plucky performance in the Santiago Bernabeu, coupled with the fact that they're still fourth in the league despite not winning any of their nine league games since 10th December, means that it was still probably a very good day for Levante.

Diego Ribas
The playmaking centre of everything fluffy, decent and good for an Atlético Madrid team who easily deserved to beat Racing by some margin. Instead the woodwork, iffy finishing and a brilliant opposition goalkeeper combined to create a third goalless draw for Atlético Madrid under Diego Simeone - but at least it wasnâÂÂt a Deportivo-style goalless draw. The Rojiblancos are now six games unbeaten, because it's six games since they conceded a goal. Impressive to say the least.

A 3-1 win over Mallorca puts Málaga just one point from the Champions League places. Which is outrageously jammy considering the money spent and the fact that Manuel PellegriniâÂÂs side have only picked up two victories in the past nine.

A classic smash and grab from Osasuna, whose bustling and impressive attacking performance against Barcelona will probably be overshadowed by much handwringing and wailing in the Catalan capital over another a failure on the road for the champions.

As José Luis Mendilibar noted after the victory, the win was down to hard work and a fair amount of fouling â which is why LLL will always have a soft spot for the Pamplona club, who are now one point off the Champions League places.

Michu and Diego Costa
Both players scored in RayoâÂÂs 2-0 win against Getafe and look a formidable front two. Coach José Ramón Sandoval claims he's still looking down the table rather than up, despite being just three points from the European places; then again, about 12 teams are in the same mid-table boat, so thatâÂÂs probably a good plan.

The Seville side needed that one. An injury-time winner against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday night slowed a slide down the table after five matches without a win.

A four-match unbeaten run including three victories, the latest being SundayâÂÂs 3-1 victory over Granada: life looks a little better for Villarreal, who are now just six points off the Champions League places. Which is quite mad, really, considering the dogâÂÂs droppings of a season itâÂÂs been for the Yellow Submarine. 

Racing's glove-wearer gave a goalkeeping display so good that tough-as-boots Atlético Madrid boss Diego Simeone waited outside the dressing room, not to rob Toño of his lunch money and give him a wedgie, but to congratulate him for his sterling work in the goalless draw. âÂÂItâÂÂs the first time something like that has happened to be,â remarked the relieved Racing man. âÂÂIt was a very nice gesture.âÂÂ

Still going down but the rather unexpected 2-0 win away at Espanyol stopped a run of 14 league games without a victory which stretched back to the 16th of October.


LLL suspects that Pep Guardiola's decision to rest Cesc Fabregas, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández against Osasuna was unavoidable. Despite the âÂÂweâÂÂll fight until the very endâ exhortations from the Catalan camp, the title race was already all but over.

The situation is that Barça have had three fronts to fight on â but with an already small squad further depleted by a whole stack of injuries, they don't have enough players. Last Wednesday's win against Valencia means they've reached the Copa del Rey final, but the Champions League knockout round starts on Tuesday with a trip to Bayer Leverkusen: what else is a manager supposed to do but tweak and twonk to get the best results from the available pool of players?

WouldnâÂÂt Guardiola have received even more criticism had Iniesta and Xavi played for example and knacked themselves again, missing the Champions League games which Barcelona could then have lost?

Gerard Piqué
Then again, PepâÂÂs player gamble might have paid off had Gerard Piqué not had a stinker of a match and been at fault for both of Dejan LekicâÂÂs goals, which gave Barcelona far too much to do after the sideâÂÂs traditional sluggish start on the road. 

Home defeat to Zaragoza saw Espanyol blowing the chance to move into the Champions League places despite LevanteâÂÂs loss. LLL was very much looking forward to hearing from Paul from Barcelona to find out what happened.

âÂÂStill wondering six hours later how Espanyol didn't win, but there are some days the ball just won't go in. Kalu Uche got a hat-trick â of sitters missed. Two good saves from the keeper, Coutinho hitting the bar and Verdu missing the follow-up.

"Then again we can't defend set-pieces and two of Zaragoza's three wins this season are against Espanyol. Zaragoza are poor but not the worst I've seen. Ref lost the plot and the linesman near me should visit an opticians. Had loads of puns about Zaragoza's HB pencil shirts. Looked sharp, came for the draw, shaded possession etc but am in a state of shock.

"MOM Coutinho. Looked good and was unlucky not to score.âÂÂ
â Paul, Barcelona

Looked as cold and miserable at LLL watching from the stands during the sideâÂÂs 2-0 defeat to Rayo in Vallecas and its freezing temperatures, freezing wind and freezing pretty much everything. With last weekâÂÂs loss to Real Madrid and the defeat in another city derby, the fact that Getafe have done next to nothing in both encounters will be the biggest gripe for Luis García who was less jovial than normal on Sunday, as to be expected.