Good Day, Bad Day: Ever’s accident, Messi’s miracle and Espanyol’s ascent

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Good Day

Real Madrid
There was an awful lot of boasting in the Madrid press concerning the ease with which José Mourinho’s side beat Racing 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu - even though Racing were down to ten men for 52 minutes of the game.
“Incontestable authority,” bragged Marca, while AS editor, Alfredo Relaño exclaimed that “the team has everything. I’ve been watching the side for nearly 50 years and I think this is the best.”
But a down-beat José 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 you’d expect against a club that is in administration, could not afford to employ a new coach to replace Héctor Cúper, and whose annual TV income is about 10 times less than Saturday night’s rivals. Anything less than a convincing, no-alarms-and-no-surprises win would have been incredible in the correct sense of the word.

Leo Messi
“Messi has returned!” 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 won’t 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.

Athletic Bilbao
Just as Sunday's San Mamés meeting with Málaga 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.

Rayo Vallecano
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 Málaga and just two fewer than fourth placed Espanyol. The latest victory was a whopping 5-2 victory over Levante, making next week’s home clash with Real Madrid a tantaslising affair to say the least.

Andrés Palop
One of the big decisions made by Míchel the manager when taking over Sevilla was to drop Javi Varas to the bench and restore goalkeeping old timer, Andrés Palop between the sticks. In Saturday’s 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.
“I’m enjoying every minute I play as I know that there aren’t many left,” the chuffed veteran enthused post-match.

LLL must admit that, much like the rest of the world, it didn’t see Mallorca's 4-0 win against Villarreal on Sunday coming.

Abel Resino
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 wouldn’t have made any difference to the result.

Javier Clemente
The grumpy old goat wasn’t able to inspire Sporting to a win at home to Atlético, but there was certainly signs of life in the Asturians during the 1-1 draw.

Bad Day

Ever Banega
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...

Atlético Madrid
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 Atlético.

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 “a lack of identity.”

“A team that has 13 shots on goal and six chances in the first half has done more than enough to win,” complained Manuel Pellegrini after the 3-0 defeat at Athletic. That may be true, but it helps if those chances are converted. Málaga continuing to suffer from irksome inconsistency with the side’s 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 evening’s Espanyol clash. It’s yet another injury to yet another member of the back four that Getafe have suffered this season. “Being a defender at this club is a high risk profession,” noted Getafe boss, Luis García.

A 4-0 defeat to Villarreal sees the side as veering between good, meh and blooming awful. Sunday’s defeat was very much in the latter camp.