Good Day, Bad Day: EverÃ¢ÂÂs accident, MessiÃ¢ÂÂs miracle and EspanyolÃ¢ÂÂs ascent
There was an awful lot of boasting in the Madrid press concerning the ease with which JosÃÂ© MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs side beat Racing 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu - even though Racing were down to ten men for 52 minutes of the game.
Ã¢ÂÂIncontestable authority,Ã¢ÂÂ bragged Marca, while AS editor, Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o exclaimed that Ã¢ÂÂthe team has everything. IÃ¢ÂÂve been watching the side for nearly 50 years and I think this is the best.Ã¢ÂÂ
But a down-beat JosÃÂ© Mourinho summed up the mood of a match in which bravado was not required, by claiming the game was won without his players having to do too much. As youÃ¢ÂÂd expect against a club that is in administration, could not afford to employ a new coach to replace HÃÂ©ctor CÃÂºper, and whose annual TV income is about 10 times less than Saturday nightÃ¢ÂÂs rivals. Anything less than a convincing, no-alarms-and-no-surprises win would have been incredible in the correct sense of the word.
Ã¢ÂÂMessi has returned!Ã¢ÂÂ gasped AS on Monday, with LLL quite unaware the Argentinean had ever been away.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who had held a five goal advantage over Messi in the Pichichi chase, must have been left exasperated, as Leo quite brilliantly bagged the second four-goal haul of his career. The 5-1 thrashing of Valencia wonÃ¢ÂÂt make a Ken Dodd Diddy-Man of a difference in the title race, but it sure was fun to watch.
The Pericos only picked up a draw against Getafe on Saturday, but it was enough to send Espanyol into the Champions League places on goal difference.
Just as Sunday's San MamÃÂ©s meeting with MÃÂ¡laga was threatening to turning into a bit of a tough tussle, Athletic smashed in three 'old skool' Basque goals - a goalmouth scramble and a couple of finishes from crosses - in four mad second half minutes. Athletic are now equal on points with Espanyol but out of the Champions League places on goal difference.
The side from Vallecas are on an astonishing run of the form, having won their past three matches, and now have the same number of points as MÃÂ¡laga and just two fewer than fourth placed Espanyol. The latest victory was a whopping 5-2 victory over Levante, making next weekÃ¢ÂÂs home clash with Real Madrid a tantaslising affair to say the least.
One of the big decisions made by MÃÂchel the manager when taking over Sevilla was to drop Javi Varas to the bench and restore goalkeeping old timer, AndrÃÂ©s Palop between the sticks. In SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 2-0 win over Osasuna that move paid off, with the 38-year-old pulling off a couple of cracking saves at 1-0 to help hold the lead that was eventually extended in injury-time to 2-0.
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm enjoying every minute I play as I know that there arenÃ¢ÂÂt many left,Ã¢ÂÂ the chuffed veteran enthused post-match.
LLL must admit that, much like the rest of the world, it didnÃ¢ÂÂt see Mallorca's 4-0 win against Villarreal on Sunday coming.
Granada are chuntering along nicely under new boss Abel Resino, who has now picked up three wins from four since taking over from Fabri. The last of these was in the sight of ski-slopes on a glorious looking morning in Granada with a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad, who were reduced to ten men in the first half, but that arguably wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt have made any difference to the result.
The grumpy old goat wasnÃ¢ÂÂt able to inspire Sporting to a win at home to AtlÃÂ©tico, but there was certainly signs of life in the Asturians during the 1-1 draw.
The Valencia midfielder is now out for the next six months having broken his ankle after being run over by his own car at a petrol station having forgotten to put the hand-brake on. That represents a bad way, however you look at it...
The Rojiblancos remain unbeaten under Diego Simeone, but the side are currently unable to capitalise on this newfound solidity by converting the chances being created. Falcao was most guilty of goal-missing mischief on Sunday in a 1-1 draw at Sporting, the third stalemate in a row in la Liga for AtlÃÂ©tico.
The 3-5 home defeat to Rayo sees Levante finally losing their hold on fourth spot, having not won in their eight games since December 10th. AS somewhat vaguely attribute this current malaise to Ã¢ÂÂa lack of identity.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂA team that has 13 shots on goal and six chances in the first half has done more than enough to win,Ã¢ÂÂ complained Manuel Pellegrini after the 3-0 defeat at Athletic. That may be true, but it helps if those chances are converted. MÃÂ¡laga continuing to suffer from irksome inconsistency with the sideÃ¢ÂÂs last five games reading LWLWL.
A considerably sprightlier display than the defeats against Real Madrid and Rayo but only a draw at home against Espanyol, when something more was probably deserved.
The Getafe defender is set to miss the next three months with a fractured upper arm after a hefty challenge in Saturday eveningÃ¢ÂÂs Espanyol clash. ItÃ¢ÂÂs yet another injury to yet another member of the back four that Getafe have suffered this season. Ã¢ÂÂBeing a defender at this club is a high risk profession,Ã¢ÂÂ noted Getafe boss, Luis GarcÃÂa.
A 4-0 defeat to Villarreal sees the side as veering between good, meh and blooming awful. SundayÃ¢ÂÂs defeat was very much in the latter camp.