Good Day, Bad Day: Barça move to top of table as Spain loses sleep

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Good Day

A hands-up confession from La Liga Loca to kick things off. For the first half of the Barcelona game on Sunday, the blog was trying to get home from the Vicente Calderón at the same time as 55,000 supporters who had the same idea. Though they were going to their own homes, obviously.
For the second half the blog was trying to rid itself of the memory of much of Atlético Madrid’s goalless draw against Sevilla. But from what LLL can now recall, Barcelona piddled around a bit, Sporting were plucky and that was about it. However, it was more than enough on the night with Pep’s Dream Boys bumping Betis off the top of the table with a 1-0 win.

A victory over Betis - the side’s fourth in a row - to move into second place had even José Mourinho claiming them to be the story of the weekend. Levante may have a back five with a combined age older than the universe itself, and scored just eight goals, but the team have the best defensive record conceding just three and, alongside Barcelona and Sevilla, are the only team in la Primera to remain unbeaten.

Gonzalo Higuaín
LLL must confess to being a huge Pipita fan due to his hard work, talent, sunny demeanor and that the happy fact that the striker really isn’t liked that much by either Florentino Pérez or Marca due to the forward being a Ramón Calderón signing who has managed to survive previous culls. So it was a good night for both the blog and the Argentinean with Higuaín scoring a hat-trick in what was a very comfortable 4-0 victory over Espanyol for Real Madrid.

There must have been some fist-shaking and foul-mouthed foaming in the Manuel Pellegrini-hating Marca offices on Saturday night, with Málaga just a couple of minutes away from losing 2-1 at home to Getafe before managing to snatch a late victory.
It was Enzo Maresca who popped up with a scrambled effort to peg Getafe back to 2-2. That strike was followed by a fantastic bicycle-kick from Julio ‘the Beast’ Baptista - not an inconsiderable feat from the forward who looks like he has been putting the ‘e’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ into his moniker of late. The 3-2 victory made Málaga the temporary league leaders on Saturday night before being usurped by the mighty Levante. 

Ruud van Nistelrooy
A header from two yards out - under some pressure from a jostling defender, it must be said - gives the Dutchman his first league goal for Málaga after six starts.

Pedro León
The midfielder’s Getafe side may have been late losers to Getafe in the end but a wonderful 30 yard left-footed whack from Pedro León gave the former Real Madrid man his first goal in la Liga since the 8th May 2010.

Sergio Canales
The three points from their 1-0 win over Granada were ones Valencia manager Unai Emery claimed with some relief would be rather important at the end of the season, as his Mestalla men were a little flat on Saturday, especially in front of goal. The one star performer was another former Real Madrid man - like Pedro León - in the shape of Sergio Canales, who drilled in a left-footed strike from the edge of the box after three minutes to give Valencia the victory.

Marcelino’s sneaky old things have now gone unbeaten in their six league outings this season and haven’t conceded a goal in four games - quite an achievement considering the flaky Martín Cáceres is in the heart of the defence. The goalless draw against Atlético was dreadful in the first half, with a bag of niggly fouls and players throwing themselves about with great enthusiasm.
The match improved marginally in the second and it was only due to the work of Thibaud Courtois and Javi Varas in the two goals that the game remained goalless after great saves from Manu del Moral and Falcao respectively.

Raul García
The on-loan Atlético Madrid midfielder is the new Walter Pandiani - but without the snarling lunacy - for Osasuna with two headers from two corners in a 2-2 draw with Mallorca who picked up two iffy penalties for their strikes. García has now scored three goals in the past two games for Osasuna, which is quite bizarre considering it’s two more than the Rojiblanco man managed in his past two extremely uninspiring seasons at the Vicente Calderón.

Iñigo Martínez
The weekend saw a David Beckham-esque strike from the Real Sociedad central defender, who belted in a stormer of a shot from a couple of feet inside his own half. A massive 53 metres from the opposition goal, in fact. “The best goal in the history of Anoeta. A perfect strike,” tweeted a watching Xabi Alonso.

Although the club are without a manager following Michael Laudrup’s departure, a point at Osasuna moves the Balearic club into the top ten.

Racing Santander, Rayo Vallecano
Two sides who really couldn’t afford to lose on Saturday made sure that they didn’t after pinging out a 1-1 draw in El Sardinero.

The Zaragoza keeper has arguably been the best in la Primera at the start of the season. Roberto had to be on top form again to keep out a Villarreal side who were probing away in the second half. Zaragoza may have conceded 13 goals, but it would have been an awful lot more had Roberto not been between the sticks.

Fernando Llorente
A much better vibe in the previously down-in-the-dumps Athletic camp after Thursday’s Europa League win against PSG and now a 2-1 victory against la Real Sociedad in a hot, sticky Basque derby at midday on Sunday. The local rivalry certainly seemed to inspire the visitors into showing flashes of their ‘Jokin’ Caparrós form under the manager, Marcelo Biesla. That was certainly the case with Fernando Llorente, the scorer of Athletic’s two goals - a player whose relief at leading his team to their first league win of the season was evident as he lay on the grass waving his fists in the air in glee at the final whistle.

Bad Day

Back-to-back defeats to Getafe and now Levante have taken the wind out of the sails of the good ship Betis. Manager Pepe Mel though has put everything into perspective a little by reminding everyone that “the team have got 12 points from six games. I’d take that for the next ones and the next ones.”

Roberto or no Roberto, Villarreal really should be polishing off sides like Zaragoza in El Madrigal. “Other sides are scoring against us too easily and this makes things difficult,” admitted Juan Carlos Garrido. “Rivals are causing a lot of damage with very little and this has to change.”

Radamel Falcao
The 5-0 thrashing by Barcelona seems to have knocked the stuffing out of the Atlético striker, who began his spell at the Vicente Calderón in some style. The Columbian forward is now without a goal in three matches in la Liga and Europe.

A lack of firepower up front - and getting the ball to what striking talent they do have in their ranks - is costing Granada badly. A third 1-0 defeat - this time to Villarreal - shows that the defence is fairly tight. It’s the two goals scored from six games that are the problem.

A positive result against Betis blown completely on Saturday after Getafe conceded two goals late on to lose all three points in Málaga. “The dressing room is really down, but we’ve got to pick ourselves up,” admitted Getafe boss, Luis García.

Medhi Lacen
The Getafe midfielder managed to get himself sent off for arguing with the referee despite the man-in-the-middle allowing a handball goal by his teammate Miku to stand. The grumpy Getafe goat then booted the ball into a pitch-side official before flouncing off down the tunnel.

A good night’s sleep
Matches finishing on Sunday at nearly midnight. Enough is enough.