Good Day, Bad Day: Busquets' new experience, Atlético & Valencia 'die ugly'
RESULTS Sat 4 Feb Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad, Getafe 0-1 Real Madrid, Mallorca 1-0 Real Betis, Levante 1-1 Racing, Athletic Bilbao 3-3 Espanyol Sun 5 Feb Atletico Madrid 0-0 Valencia, Real Zaragoza 1-2 Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla 1-2 Villarreal, Sporting 1-1 Osasuna FIXTURE Mon 6 Feb Granada v Malaga
The defender is the man-of-the-moment in the Madrid press, who are admiring his willingness to stand up to JosÃÂ© Mourinho, shout a bit both in the tunnel and on the pitch, clear balls up the field, score goals from corners and get sent off considerably less than before. Ã¢ÂÂThe soul of a leaderÃ¢ÂÂ purrs MondayÃ¢ÂÂs admiring headline in AS. The best of a boring bunch in MadridÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 win at Getafe.
Although BarÃÂ§a arenÃ¢ÂÂt tonking sides like in the good old days, PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys will take any win they can with the teamÃ¢ÂÂs injury list getting longer by the hour. The Catalan club began SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 2-1 win over Real Sociedad without Gerard PiquÃÂ©, Xavi, AndrÃÂ©s Iniesta, Pedro, David Villa and Alexis in the starting line-up either through injury or being a bit tired.
The news got worse for Guardiola, with Sergio Busquets getting caught by a stud in the second half and feeling what itÃ¢ÂÂs like to be genuinely injured for once in his life - the sensation was met with look of confusion and bewilderment.
Yet another fancy-footed wide-man forward player type thing from BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs cantera production line, and a footballer scoring in his first Primera start for the club. Now, if they could only churn out a six-foot-five big man up front...
It's really hard to know where to stick Levante these days, because of the current contrast to the sideÃ¢ÂÂs storming 2011. The team have yet to pick up a victory in 2012, with SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 1-1 draw with struggling Racing being the fourth time in the new year that the side has failed to pick up maximum points in a fairly winnable home game.
But Levante are still in fourth - not a good observation on the quality of the chasing pack for the Champions League places, currently like a greyhound race on an ice rink - and need just three or four more wins to secure their Primera status, which letÃ¢ÂÂs not forget was the main goal of the campaign rather than all this qualifying for Europe business.
Athletic Bilbao & Espanyol
LLL is still more than a little irked that it missed this cracking match due to the blog being in transit to watch a complete dirge-fest in the freezing cold between Real Madrid and Espanyol. As in last weekÃ¢ÂÂs clash against Rayo, Athletic scored three goals, but this time it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a win but a 3-3 draw with Espanyol managing the same feat, the final equalising effort coming in the dying seconds of the match.
With Valencia, Levante and AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid all drawing, a point apiece wonÃ¢ÂÂt make either side particularly happy though, as the game was a fine chance missed to plant a crampon onto the icy slopes of the Champions League places and unpack the base camp tents. But for the crucial job of entertaining the supporters in freezing San MamÃÂ©s and those as snug as a bug on their sofas, both clubs are honoured with a Good Day spot.
It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt the AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid goalkeeperÃ¢ÂÂs fault SundayÃ¢ÂÂs goalless draw with Valencia was such a sludge-fest, so LLL must applaud the on-loan keeper for a fifth clean sheet in la Liga in a row.
The striker - on-loan from AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid - was making his debut for Rayo Vallecano, being one of four newbies to join during the winter transfer window. The Brazilian was also making his first La Liga start of the season due to injury. Nevertheless, the forward scored RayoÃ¢ÂÂs first goal in a 2-1 win at Zaragoza to help undo the damage of two costly home defeats in the Madrid clubÃ¢ÂÂs past two matches.
The blog is torn between its long-standing admiration of Mallorca manager JoaquÃÂn CaparrÃÂ³s, and its dislike of his limited, defensive side who have bored the nipples of the blog whenever it has seen their games. Still, CaparrÃÂ³s is doing what is being asked of him by keeping the team out of the relegation zone, even if it ainÃ¢ÂÂt pretty to watch. That was certainly a description of SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 win over Betis, which the Balearic side managed despite being down to nine men.
Three matches undefeated now and win away at Sevilla sees Villarreal slowly pulling themselves away from their rather embarrassing temporary residence in the relegation zone.
ZaragozaÃ¢ÂÂs Portuguese poacher is becoming a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goal scorer, after another stonking over-head effort against Rayo on Sunday.
AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid & Valencia
Awful, awful, awful. Diego Simeone may have been a furious figure shouting Ã¢ÂÂCourage! Fight! Courage! Fight!Ã¢ÂÂ to his AtlÃÂ©tico players, but naff all happened in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs goalless draw in the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n aside from a late flurry of activity in the final seconds. Ã¢ÂÂIt was born ugly and died ugly,Ã¢ÂÂ was the apt match report from AS.
Events may well catch up with LLL, with Marcelino being sacked while the blog is going through the process of being written, sent, having the swear words removed, libelous comments adjusted, Arizmendi jokes extradited and the final results then being published. But the blog would not be at all surprised if it's the end of the road for the Sevilla boss in the meantime, after a home defeat to Villarreal on Sunday that leaves the team four points from the relegation zone.
LLL has actually started to feel a little bit sorry for Marcelino in recent games, as there has been attacking intent to SevillaÃ¢ÂÂs play but the strikers have been a little profligate in front of goal.
LLLÃ¢ÂÂs favourite Primera manager by a long, long way. Funny, smiley, open and always happy to admit when his Getafe side play badly or if the game is an absolute dog - something that was an apt description of SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 defeat at the feet of visiting Real Madrid.
Ã¢ÂÂIt was ugly for us, for the crowdÃ¢ÂÂ admitted GarcÃÂa in a cold encounter he described as Ã¢ÂÂstrangeÃ¢ÂÂ and that his side never got into, noting that Real Madrid largely bypassed the midfield for once. Ã¢ÂÂWe couldnÃ¢ÂÂt rob a single ball,Ã¢ÂÂ was the reason given for a bit of a flat Getafe performance in the Coliseum.
A disappointing result for Manuel PreciadoÃ¢ÂÂs immediate replacement at Sporting - a 1-1 draw at home to Osasuna in a match where the Asturian side took the lead. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm the coach until they tell me otherwise,Ã¢ÂÂ said the former number two after the draw that keeps Sporting in the relegation zone, three points from safety.
The home defeat against Rayo leaves Zaragoza without a league victory since 16th October and ten points from safety at the bottom-of-the-table.