Good Day, Bad Day: Conspiracies and understated celebrations
Hold onto your hats - it's Tim Stannard's whistle-stop round-up of the weekend's action from Spain...
Though the coach will have to repeat the Ã¢ÂÂleague is not won yet, the league is not won yetÃ¢ÂÂ mantra pretty much every minute of every day for the next two months, Pep and the Dream Boys know that the title was moreorless sewn up, thanks to Saturday's double delight of a defeat for Madrid and a win for BarÃÂ§a at Villarreal in a match where a draw probably would have been a fair result.
Ã¢ÂÂBarÃÂ§a donÃ¢ÂÂt fail at key moments,Ã¢ÂÂ wrote Josep MarÃÂa Casanovas in Sport. And the columnist was right. This season BarÃÂ§a have beaten Villarreal at home and away, and inflicted the same on Valencia. And there was, of course, the 5-0 victory over Madrid in the Camp Nou. Just one more win in the Bernabeu in a fortnightÃ¢ÂÂs time will pretty much seal the deal.
Three great saves against Villarreal have left the Catalan press calling for Mad VÃÂctor to take Iker CasillasÃ¢ÂÂs place in SpainÃ¢ÂÂs starting XI.
A tough day for the Valencia striker, who scored four at the ground of his former club, Getafe. On the pitch, it was an easy business for the footballer but what made life difficult for Soldado was having to do the Ã¢ÂÂhey, IÃ¢ÂÂve scored but IÃ¢ÂÂm going to do a very understated, it really hurt my heart to do soÃ¢ÂÂ celebration on four separate occasions.
By the end of the game, the forward had the same an expression as a vet who had just put MÃÂchel the ManagerÃ¢ÂÂs favourite puppy to sleep.
The Andalusians' steady but sneaky climb up the table continued thanks to a 3-1 win over Zaragoza that saw Gregorio ManzanoÃ¢ÂÂs men move into fifth, nine points behind Villarreal.
The Atleti striker has spent much of the season looking a tad too chunky, diving and not scoring goals. But Costa doubled his league tally for the campaign with a hat-trick that gave the Rojiblancos a very unexpected - by this blog, at least - 3-2 win at Osasuna and moved AtlÃÂ©tico to within a point of the European places.
A line-up which was without the suspended Kun AgÃÂ¼ero and had Diego ForlÃÂ¡nÃ¢ÂÂs booty parked on the bench didnÃ¢ÂÂt promise that much for the visitors - especially as RaÃÂºl GarcÃÂa was playing too - but it paid off for Atleti with CostaÃ¢ÂÂs first hat-trick for the club.
Ã¢ÂÂNo-one really has any clue about football,Ã¢ÂÂ sighed IÃÂ±ako DÃÂaz-Guerra on a sentiment very much shared by La Liga Loca.
Who needs Felipe Caicedo? Certainly not Levante when they have Uruguayan genius, Stuani, in their ranks to replace the clubÃ¢ÂÂs injured goalscoring talisman. Stuani popped up with two to defeat MÃÂ¡laga 3-1 and give Levante their seventh win in ten making the club from Valencia the third best in la Primera in the second half of the season. And suddenly now only four points from the European places too! Woot woot!
A team who were supposed to have given up in a game against Barcelona in October - according to JosÃÂ© Mourinho, anyway - have done rather well against the Big Two this season, having taken four points from their four games against BarÃÂ§a and Madrid, conceding just three goals.
Sporting drew with Barcelona in El MolinÃÂ³n but topped that performance with a 1-0 win over Madrid in the Bernabeu - making them the first away team to have won there in nearly a year and the first side to stick one up Mourinho on his own patch in the league in 150 matches.
LLL is still not entirely sure how they managed it, but Madrid had been living dangerously at home in a number of encounters this season - such as HÃÂ©rcules, Mallorca, Valencia and Sevilla - with flat performances where a goal was expected by the home team rather than sought. Sporting took advantage on a night when the gods that usually watch over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu were presumably stuck in traffic.
A 2-1 win over Mallorca for Deportivo, but the blog finds it physically impossible to write anything nice about them. Even when they win. And score actual goals.
The naughty Dutchman was sent home from training during the week by new HÃÂ©rcules coach, Miroslav Djukic, but found his way back into the HÃÂ©rcules good books by scoring three in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs 3-1 away win at Real Sociedad. However, it was Javier Portillo who caused the real shock of the day by a) scoring and b) scoring an away goal for HÃÂ©rcules, the teamÃ¢ÂÂs first in 1,113 minutes.
The boxing ring of la Primera currently has more towels lying around than a 15 girl flat-share. Both Marca and AS have given up the title race with MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs front page on Sunday sobbing, Ã¢ÂÂgoodbye league, goodbye recordÃ¢ÂÂ. The editorial in the following dayÃ¢ÂÂs edition is already in Ã¢ÂÂmove onÃ¢ÂÂ mode with Marca penning an ode to the professionalism of Cristiano Ronaldo for his supposed insistence on playing TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs game against Spurs despite a leg injury.
AS are getting over a defeat that has left Barcelona eight points clear at the top of the table by blaming their longstanding conspiracy called Ã¢ÂÂVillaratoÃ¢ÂÂ - named after the FA president, Angel Villar - a gentleman who apparently runs a campaign that orders referees to favour BarÃÂ§a over Madrid. And a gentleman who should probably sue, thinks La Liga Loca.
The paperÃ¢ÂÂs latest grumble is that Gerard PiquÃÂ©Ã¢ÂÂs winning goal for BarÃÂ§a was handball and that Madrid should have had a number of penalties against Sporting - making it nine owed to Madrid in 2011 - but the referees all have it in for the club, apparently.
Ã¢ÂÂThere no doping (at Barcelona) but thereÃ¢ÂÂs Villarato...BarÃÂ§a wonÃ¢ÂÂt win the league because of this, but it has widened the gap.Ã¢ÂÂ LLL senses that AS feel that if you canÃ¢ÂÂt beat Ã¢ÂÂem, then whine.
Oh dear. Yet another defeat for Espanyol - a home loss to Racing - sees that side coming dangerous close to slipping out of the European places. Paul from Barcelona was there to see it happen. And heÃ¢ÂÂs not happy at all...
Ã¢ÂÂStill not quite sure how Espanyol lost that. I remember in the 80s when there was a campaign to Ã¢ÂÂkick the professional foul out of footballÃ¢ÂÂ. Then in the 90s we saw the Ã¢ÂÂtactical foulÃ¢ÂÂ. Well, welcome to the Brazil 1970 of tactical, niggling and professional fouls - Racing Santander.
"How they only got three yellows is beyond me. DonÃ¢ÂÂt know what the record for number of fouls committed in a match is but Racing smashed that. Pedro Munitis alone should be contacted by Norris McWhirter in the morning for Ã¢ÂÂmanaging to avoid a booking despite committing over 50 foulsÃ¢ÂÂ. A new record. (LLL - that might be a bit of a shock for Pedro as Norris departed this world in 2004).
"An Osvaldo penalty - a deliberate handball in the area is a red card, is it not? - gave Espanyol the lead at HT. Then two borderline offside goals, both from corners gave Racing three points they didnÃ¢ÂÂt deserve. The next time BarÃÂ§a fans moan about Ã¢ÂÂanti-footballÃ¢ÂÂ because a team has out-thought them tactically then wait till Racing come to town and then you will really have something to moan about for once.
Still six points from the drop zone but there is danger afoot for la Real who have lost five out of the clubÃ¢ÂÂs last six games.
MÃÂchel the manager - or Ã¢ÂÂsoon to be ex-managerÃ¢ÂÂ - at Getafe is certainly on the ball. After SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 2-4 home defeat to Valencia, MÃÂchel admitted that the clubÃ¢ÂÂs situation Ã¢ÂÂis beginning to get dangerousÃ¢ÂÂ. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs a fine spot indeed, given Getafe have managed just one win in the past 14 league games.
The clubÃ¢ÂÂs problems are a defence that is making far too many silly mistakes and a complete lack of goals up front from Javier Arizmendi and co. ItÃ¢ÂÂs only Manu del Moral who has bagged five of GetafeÃ¢ÂÂs last six goals that is keeping the sideÃ¢ÂÂs end up, as it were.