Good Day, Bad Day: A defensive Jimmy Saville & La Liga's Niles and Frasier Crane

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Good Day

Real Madrid
By refusing to speak to the media, José Mourinho and his players are - a) sulking, or b) standing up for their right to protest against evil refereeing injustice, it all depends on the cut of your duvet. As it turns out, this radio silence is actually quite pleasant and peaceful, but it does mean nobody really knows what they all think about Saturday’s 5-1 win over Real Sociedad.
All LLL can add is that there was a physical sense of release - no, not that type - from the 82,000 or so Madrid fans in the stadium after back-to-back draws had seen the capital city club losing a chunk of their advantage over Barça. Once again it was BAU for Madrid - chances were being created and put away with some aplomb by Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín, with the Frenchman’s lob being the pick of the bunch.

Leo Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo
Another couple of games and another couple of records for the Frasier and Niles Crane of la Liga. Or should it be Cliff and Norm? Either way, Messi’s opener for Barcelona against Mallorca saw the Argentine break the original Ronaldo’s club record of 34 league goals in a season.
Meanwhile, the Real Madrid man’s double meant the Portuguese became the quickest player to score a century of goals in la Liga - 101 in 92 games - and sees an astonishing record of 131 official goals in 131 official games. Which is roughly a goal a game, by LLL’s reckoning.

Things got a little bit tingly there for a while with Pep’s Dream Boys down to ten men and hanging on to a 1-0 lead. The old Barcelona away form had returned, with the side looking more than a little lost in the Balearics. But Gerard Piqué undid some of the damage he has done at the back this season with a goal up the other end, poking home a shot from Messi that came back off the post. “Nobody can stop Barça!” boasts Sport’s front cover quiet incorrectly, considering the team are second in the table, six points off the top.

Manuel Pellegrini
Málaga aren’t just strong favourites for fourth place as they were a week ago, but perhaps now the hot tips for third, with Valencia having stalled completely. Should José Mourinho leave the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, then Florentino Pérez might want to look at the promising young buck at the helm of the club who is delivering this success under enormous fan and media pressure...

Another team who have beaten their target of 42 points for survival with a victory against Levante. “Permanency was our first challenge. Now we’ll go on from match to match and nothing more,” promised coach, José Luis Mendilibar. That first game happens to be the visit of Real Madrid to Pamplona, a game LLL suspects the home fans and players are going to relish somewhat.

Like a stealth-shielded football machine that no one much cares about, Getafe have moved themselves onto 39 points without anyone really noticing, apart from an alert Russian radar operator in Siberia who reported the blip to his superiors. The club’s third win from Getafe’s last four games was Saturday’s rather surprising 3-1 victory over Valencia in the Coliseum.

Hat’s off to Zaragoza and Manolo Jiménez. A second win in a week for the bottom side, this time against the ever generous Atlético Madrid. But as the Zaragoza coach noted, “we’ve still got a foot and a half in the Segunda,” with his side in possession of just 25 points, the same as Racing and Sporting with all three teams looking doomed this year.

Bad Day

Third-placed Valencia are on the brink of becoming fourth-placed Valencia after their defeat to Getafe, combined with Málaga’s continuing rise saw the Southern side move level on points with the Mestalla men. It seems Valencia spent far too much time in their comfort zone watching the melee beneath them, thinking they would never be caught up in it. Just three league victories in 2012 sees Valencia being given a huge boot in the bum that the players are going to have to react to before the supporters all find out where they life and turn up at their homes with pitchforks.

The 2-0 defeat at home to Osasuna sounds like the kind of result to be expected once Levante had reached their survival mark, which they did in midweek. But it was only down to some fantastic goalkeeping from visiting goalkeeper Andrés that stopped Levante winning this one and going equal on points with Valencia, something that must be a huge incentive in the final run-in in la Liga for Levante.

Espanyol’s fancy dream of being a big European player has seen referee-itis spreading to Cornella, where Paul from Barcelona is in feverish mood, blaming the man in the middle for Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Málaga. Take it away!
“A two footed lunge from behind, with the sole intention of bringing down the player is a red card in the 20th minute, 50th minute etc. Then why isn't it in the first minute? A foul is a foul, right?
Goalie who has just replaced an injured keeper handles outside the area to stop a player from having a shot. Red card or not?
One for you gamblers. What are the odds of there being no offside decisions in the first half then the same assistant signaling 90% of all forward passes offside in the second half ?  
In basketball, basically you can push an opponent and the foul goes your way. When was this introduced in football?
It seems oil money can buy more than just good players. Welcome to the New Order.  Real, Barça and Valencia have a new member of the top four clubs who seem to be loved by the referees, while every other team continues to get it from a great height.”
Paul, Barcelona

Diego Simeone
“Courage! Effort! Courage! Effort! LLL is going to interrupt the Atlético Madrid manager’s usual spiel with an observation made to the blog by Garreth Nunn of, who quite correctly asks what would have happened if Gregorio Manzano had been in charge of a side that lost at Zaragoza in the final ten seconds of injury time thanks to a defender giving away a completely pointless, ludicrous penalty.

Rayo Vallecano
Something wasn’t quite right in Vallecas from the start of the match against Villarreal. The atmosphere lacked the usual spark, the fans lacked that tiny bit of extra commitment and passion. In the first half, this was mirrored by the footballers who were a little slack but who put in the yards in the second and deserved more from the efforts than a 2-0 defeat.

Athletic Bilbao
Ouch. Numerous chances created against Sporting on Sunday afternoon and all wasted bar one, a great effort Oscar de Marcos. “We should have won by three or four goals,” observed Marcelo Bielsa. “Sporting attacked once and got a point.” Athletic now without a win in four games and are slipping away from the European places, never mind the Champions League.

Philippe Montanier
The Real Sociedad boss has received some rather stroppy criticism from the direction of AS whose correspondent, Aritz Gabilondo, who was upset with the visitors’ game plan to play five at the back and perhaps frustrate a nervous, previously out-of-form Real Madrid. The players have “never been such a slave to their manager,” fumed the AS man. “(Montanier) should be sacked for this. Today. Without a minute more of red-faced shame.”

The Seville side are having a rough old time of it at the moment, although still seven points from the relegation badlands. Betis blew a win in the final seconds midweek against Espanyol at home and dropped yet more points this time hosting struggling Racing, who scored with 12 minutes to go. Betis now without a victory in six.

Miguel Angel Lotina
A yellow and blue shell suit? Really? The Villarreal boss looked like a defensive Jimmy Saville...