Good Day, Bad Day: BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂcrisisÃ¢ÂÂ and more Mourinho moaning
A certain Madrid-mad Primera pundit was last week trying to convince LLL that Barcelona were 'in crisis' having dropped points against Sporting in la Liga and been beaten by Arsenal in the Champions League.
If two points dropped in the past 19 league games - the most recent of which being an away win for PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys against Mallorca on Saturday - consistutes a crisis, then LLL would like to know what phase Real Madrid are in considering the side have dropped seven points in the last seven games.
A chorus of Ã¢ÂÂitÃ¢ÂÂs all gone quiet over thereÃ¢ÂÂ seems quite apt at this point.
A 2-1 win in San MamÃÂ©s is perhaps ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs best result this season in la Liga - especially considering it was paired with two more dropped points by Villarreal and the fact that the win was against a team who flirted with the Champions League places, but appeared to have been turned down flat and returning to their sorry spot at the footballing bar.
Valencia now have a four point cushion in third and have only lost once in la Liga since early November, a statistic that seems to have gone largely unnoticed - especially by the clubÃ¢ÂÂs bosses who are uninterested in renewing Unai EmeryÃ¢ÂÂs contract until third place in guaranteed. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a harsh stance considering how well the madcap manager has done in the current campaign both domestically and in the Champions League.
After four straight defeats, Espanyol finally got their mojo back with a 4-1 win against the ever erratic Real Sociedad. Paul from Barcelona was there in Cornella to watch it all unfold. Most of it, anyway.
Ã¢ÂÂA good but not fanatical reception for RaÃÂºl Tamudo, a couple of banners and a few chants. Once the match started it was business as usual. A fairly even first half with Espanyol players creating chances at both ends. Then a mad minute of two goals of which I saw neither. The first goal for Alvaro I saw hit the net but not the shot as some bloke walked in front of me. Perfect time to nip to the loo. Only to come back and look in disbelief at the scoreboard 1-1. From a corner apparently. Usual rubbish defending of set-pieces.
Second half only one team in it. Espanyol piled forward and a fantastic bit of control and a neat turn from Sergio GarcÃÂa made it 2-1. Then CallejÃÂ³nÃ¢ÂÂs weakly hit but beautifully placed cross shot made it 3-1. Then the cherry on the cake for MOM Javi Marquez to score directly from a free kick in stoppage time. Time for the Tamudo chants to finish the match.
A deserved win for Espanyol against average opposition, who lacked a cutting edge.
Well over a thousand la Real fans, who were resigned to defeat at 2-1. Ref was average but his linesman on the left had a Ã¢ÂÂmare. Another match on Tuesday at home against Mallorca could see Espanyol consolidate the Europa league position.Ã¢ÂÂ
AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid, Sevilla
LLL would like to thank both teams for the most fun it has had at the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n this season, that hasnÃ¢ÂÂt involved the blog getting as high as a Sergio Ramos cross from the enormous amount of jazz cigarette smoke that hangs above the fans for every home game.
Great goals, great mistakes and a great atmosphere in a 2-2 draw between two teams in that all important battle for seventh spot.
Giovani dos Santos
Two points lost for Racing with a late equaliser for Villarreal, but another sparkling performance from the speedy on-loan striker from Spurs who has played a big part in RacingÃ¢ÂÂs recent revival under Marcelino and the clubÃ¢ÂÂs new owner.
LLL has now done a bit of a Nick Clegg style U-Turn, thrown away everything it used to believe in and now loves and embraces DeportivoÃ¢ÂÂs every-man-behind-the ball approach. One shot on target all game, no goals scored, 10-men defence, opposition goalkeeper having got through two books during the game. To tell you the truth, just writing that has made LLL go all tingly down below.
Levante coach, Luis GarcÃÂa, was quite correct to say that last weekÃ¢ÂÂs match against Real Madrid Ã¢ÂÂwasnÃ¢ÂÂt their warÃ¢ÂÂ, with the away clash coming after three straight wins in la Primera. But on Sunday, Levante went into battle once again and it was muscle, desire and shoving fullbacks out of the way that brought the home side yet another victory. This time it was a 2-1 win over Osasuna to make it four wins in five - Champions League-chasing form in the month February.
Huge, desperate sigh time for the blog. JosÃÂ© MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs increasingly sad and pathetic claims that the bigwigs of the Spanish game are out to get his team are so lamentable it is no longer worth checking to see if there is any truth to them.
After moaning that the referees were against his side at the beginning of the year, the erratic Madrid manager is now accusing those setting the fixture lists for trying to scupper his title bid. We canÃ¢ÂÂt for the life of us work out why.
A grouchy Mourinho wanted to play Deportivo on Sunday, giving his team an extra dayÃ¢ÂÂs rest after the Lyon match. Ã¢ÂÂThey are laughing at me behind my back,Ã¢ÂÂ claimed a manager who apparently wants the entire Spanish schedule fixed to suit his own particular needs despite having a squad that cost in the region of 18 billion euro to assemble.
If those setting the fixtures are laughing behind MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs back then they must be p*ssing themselves over poor MÃÂ¡laga, who play their Ã¢ÂÂweekendÃ¢ÂÂ match on Monday giving the team two days less than Madrid to prepare for ThursdayÃ¢ÂÂs league encounter in the Santiago Bernabeu. WhatÃ¢ÂÂs more, Barcelona face a four day break to their next fixture against Valencia, whilst Real Madrid get five.
For once, The Special One should take a leaf out of AS and Marca's book, with both publications reacting to the goalless draw with Deportivo with surprising good grace. Ã¢ÂÂThatÃ¢ÂÂs football,Ã¢ÂÂ said MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs headline on a game where the ball just didnÃ¢ÂÂt want to go in despite what was a perfectly good performance from Real Madrid. Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt see a single Madridista angry at their team,Ã¢ÂÂ wrote TomÃÂ¡s Roncero in AS.
The knives are turning on the Brazilian in the Madrid press after what was perceived as a dainty lady, scone-eating performance against Deportivo. Ã¢ÂÂKakÃÂ¡ is taking too long to come back. Perhaps heÃ¢ÂÂll never come back,Ã¢ÂÂ mused Luis Nieto in AS.
Juan Carlos GarridoÃ¢ÂÂs men are still in their funk which sees two defeats and now two draws in the teamÃ¢ÂÂs last four league matches. There were hopes that a wonderful win against Napoli on Thursday would give CPR to VillarrealÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League campaign, but a 2-2 draw against Racing put paid to that. Still, it could have been a lot worse for Villarreal considering the team were 2-1 down until the final seconds until Nilmar threw himself at the ball during a desperate corner scramble.
The poor Valencia defender was carried from the field of play for a short amount of time after an aerial clash with Fernando Llorente. LLL can only imagine that the damage done to NavarroÃ¢ÂÂs elbow was substantial considering how hard he smashed the Athletic BilbaoÃ¢ÂÂs face with it.
Ã¢ÂÂTheyÃ¢ÂÂll give him an Oscar for what he did. Navarro played the role of his life,Ã¢ÂÂ stormed Llorente after the 2-1 defeat.
Sporting, Zaragoza / HÃÂ©rcules, Getafe
Goalless draws for all teams sees everyone with a Ã¢ÂÂone point, no useÃ¢ÂÂ look about them on Monday. Except Getafe perhaps, who managed not to be thrashed 4-0 which is something that seems to happen every couple of weeks this season.