Good Day, Bad Day: The Genius of Granada & Atlético’s Incredible Options

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Good Day

Leo Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo is such a team player that the Real Madrid star probably wasn’t even aware Leo Messi had scored four goals to move five strikes clear in the Pichichi chase with one game left until the following morning. But like Ronaldo's triumph last season, it’s a bit of a hollow victory for the Argentinean, seeing as he won’t be winning la Liga. Still, Saturday's four goals seemed to be a farewell gift to Pep Guardiola during the coach’s final appearance at the Camp Nou as Barcelona boss.

Unai Emery
The coach delivered Valencia a third successive third place finish in what was his final game at the Mestalla before departing the east coast club. LLL feels that’s job done for the departing coach, despite his players and the fans not exactly helping him on the way. We half hope the club soon live to regret the treatment given to poor Team Unai over the past season or two when officially under new management.

Atlético Madrid
Looking at the league table at around 11pm on Saturday night, the phrase ‘you are kidding me’ sprung from the blog’s gob. Actually, it was something a little bit stronger. Atlético’s victory against Málaga sees the Rojiblancos in with a chance of Champions League football next season. All they need is to dispose of Villarreal and for Málaga to fail to beat Sporting, but due to the close nature of the European places as we approach the final day, Atlético could even end up with nothing at all.
Despite the reasonably strong position for Atlético - one that Diego Simeone said he would have signed up for when he took over - the Vicente Calderón club came so close to doing their familiar shooting-themselves-in-the-foot routine. Points have been lost in the closing seconds all year due to clumsiness - most recently against Real Sociedad - and it seemed like it was déja-vu all over again on Saturday, with Málaga scoring what seemed like a perfectly good goal that was subsequently ruled out for offside. Let’s see if Atlético’s luck holds out for two more big games this week, starting with Wednesday's Europa League final.

Once again, Mallorca do just enough to pick up a victory. Sunday’s result was a 1-0 win against Levante was the third in the team’s last four matches - the sign of a side that is clinical with few chances created but incredibly sturdy at the back. Mallorca may not quite achieve the goal of European football next season with a clash against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu to come, but Joaquín Caparrós has made sure the opportunity has come incredibly close.

Another solid 1-0 home win, this time against Real Sociedad, keeps Osasuna in a chase for a European spot.

Freddie Kanouté
The injured Malian was given just a few minutes against Rayo Vallecano and still managed to score. The former Frenchman, who has has been one of the players LLL has most enjoyed watching over the years, said goodbye to the Sánchez Pizjuán having given wonderful service over the past seven seasons. The footballer will be very much missed in la Liga.

The side came so, so close to blowing it in the home clash against Racing, missing a huge number of chances. But in the end, Angel Lafita came through with ten minutes to go to give the relegation-battlers a 2-1 victory against Racing. Although Zaragoza's self belief is high after three victories on the trot, there are clearly nerves-a-plenty in the spines of them there footballers. However, a win against Getafe - no harder than playing 11 shop window dummies theses day - will see Zaragoza safe against some astronomical odds earlier this year.

It was tears from the poor old Sporting players last Tuesday after defeat to Villarreal looked like seeing the Asturians being sent to la Segunda this weekend. But Sporting survive to fight one more day after winning against Betis. The second-from-bottom team now need to beat Málaga next weekend - unlikely - and hope that Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano both lose - very, very unlikely.

Bad Day

For the fourth time this season, the forward was been substituted at half-time after disappearing from the match. Kaká probably isn’t going to be hanging about the Santiago Bernabeu next season.

Manuel Pellegrini
The Málaga manager seemed considerably wrinklier and more bouffant-ed since LLL last saw the Chilean face-to-blog, and also appeared quite frustrated that his team couldn’t kill-off Atlético Madrid to guarantee fourth spot, after a dominant first half in the Calderón. Although they have what looks a very comfortable final game against Sporting next Sunday, Málaga still have work to do, even if European football of some kind has at least now been secured.

The Sevilla boss was set the target of delivering Champions League football when he took over at the club in February. Yet Míchel didn’t even manage to provide Sevilla with Europa League football next season. The former Getafe boss has said that projects as messed up as Sevilla’s need time and patience, but it’s unlikely club president José María del Nido will give him much of either, with Joaquín Caparrós even being touted for a return to the Andalusian club over the summer.

Well that was smart. Take a well deserved 1-0 lead against Real Madrid, rugby tackle Cristiano Ronaldo to give away a penalty with ten minutes to go and then score a own goal in injury time. But that’s not all. Oh no. Not by a long way. Get two of your players sent off for abusing the referee after the match, have another throwing a full drinks bottle at the same referee to ensure a lengthy suspension. Oh yes, make sure that these are your three best players missing for the final match of the campaign when the team could still be relegated.
Instead of apologising and realising what buffoons you have been, blame the referee for being from Zaragoza, the home of one of your relegation rivals and basically suggest that he is either biased or corrupt. “It was premeditated,” claims Mikel Rico. Good going, all round.

Miguel Angel Lotina
The Villarreal boss experienced relegation on the final day of the season with Deportivo last term, and may well be doing so again, this time with another big name of Spanish football - Villarreal. Now that really does take some special kind of talent. The Yellow Submarine still have Rayo Vallecano sat between them and the drop-zone, but are only one point ahead the two teams below them - it all creates an incredibly uncomfortable situation next Sunday against Atlético Madrid.

Rayo Vallecano
The Madrid side have really, really, really got to hold it together now, despite the Sevilla defeat being the side’s ninth loss in a shockingly bad run of ten. All of this back story needs to be cast asunder - LLL thinks that’s correct English - with the players focussing on the notion that if they beat Granada on Sunday, they are safe for another season.