Good Day, Bad Day: Golden Gonzalo, Angry Unai and Awful Arizmendi
It was time for a spot of role reversal for Madrid and Barcelona on Saturday night. PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys were the team grinding out a narrow home win and scoring with their only shot on target, while the Forces of Mordor had whipped off their kit and were merrily running naked through the sprinklers of surprise with wonderful passing and six goals away from home.
And thatÃ¢ÂÂs probably because one team have perhaps the biggest and best squad in Europe and the other are completely knackered.
Anyone disliked by both Marca and the big Bernabeu bosses is a friend of LLL - and thatÃ¢ÂÂs why the blog has always been happy to hold GonzaloÃ¢ÂÂs hand, buy him a latte and call him a chum through his thick and thin spells at Real Madrid (and thatÃ¢ÂÂs not a reference to Sergio Ramos and Pepe).
HiguaÃÂn celebrated his ongoing return from a back injury with three goals, two assists and a hearty hair ruffle of approval from LLL. The blog has yet to deliver the third part but it has two bites at the Gonzalo cherry on Wednesday and Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu. Security permitting.
Another goal for that loveable little scamp, Iker Muniain, gave Athletic a victory in a typically feisty derby against Real Sociedad and leaves them just six points off the still wobbling Villarreal with five games to go. Chin-strokingly interesting stuff, especially because LLL predicted back in August that Athletic would grab fourth spot this season.
Another trip to the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n for LLL on a Sunday evening and another comfy-as-cushions victory for AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid, who are squatting in seventh and hugging a four point gap over Espanyol. As with the clash against Real Sociedad a fortnight ago, Atleti only looked troubled for twenty minutes and came out on top with a 4-1 win, even with Juanfran and Raul GarcÃÂa playing.
The victory over Getafe for Mallorca didnÃ¢ÂÂt exactly make the front pages in Spain but it was still an important one as it puts Mallorca on 42 points with five games to spare - not bad going for a team in administration and shorn of all itÃ¢ÂÂs half-decent players over the summer.
Ã¢ÂÂWe can now play the last five games without anxiety, tension and perhaps try to get as far up the table as possible,Ã¢ÂÂ announced the Great Dane in what sounds like great news for Racing, Villarreal, HÃÂ©rcules, AlmerÃÂa and AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid - MallorcaÃ¢ÂÂs final opponents.
It was a truly awful week for Manuel Preciado which saw the death of the SportingÃ¢ÂÂs coachÃ¢ÂÂs father in a road accident - another tragedy to go alongside the death of his wife through cancer in 2002 and of his son in other car accident two years later.
But his players responded on Sunday to perhaps cheer him up slightly with a 1-0 victory to lift Sporting to 42 points and probably safety. Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt know if IÃ¢ÂÂll ever be able to return such love,Ã¢ÂÂ said Preciado of his players. Ã¢ÂÂThe hard work from this dressing room is the most IÃ¢ÂÂve had as a coach.Ã¢ÂÂ
A veritable humdinger of an opening strike against Racing helped MÃÂ¡laga to a 2-1 win and a second victory on the trot. The Beast has returned just in time with three goals in two games that sees MÃÂ¡laga three points away from the relegation zone.
A 1-0 win over Deportivo but still going down (grumble, grumble, grumble).
The Mestalla massive are not the must understanding bunch at the best of times, so it was not wholly unsurprising that the home crowd were all with the Ever Banega on Saturday evening by bringing out the hankies and tissues. But this time there was very little pleasuring involved.
ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs finest moment was perhaps the dithering from Jeremy Mathieu to allow Gonzalo HiguaÃÂnÃ¢ÂÂs first goal of three. Or perhaps it was Unai EmeryÃ¢ÂÂs StorminÃ¢ÂÂ Norman impression after the game which made the stadiumÃ¢ÂÂs foundations rumble and crumble. Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt understand how we can be so aggressive against Villarreal and do nothing against Madrid,Ã¢ÂÂ fumed Unai. Ã¢ÂÂWe were a joke. A big joke.Ã¢ÂÂ
Another defeat this weekend but if Villarreal make it to the Europa League final and grab fourth spot then the recent losses in this final section of the season would all have been worth it.
Yes, it was a handy win for Sevilla in their Europa League chase, but LLL really canÃ¢ÂÂt believe that the ball boys acted of their own initiative by chucking balls onto the pitch to disrupt the play and refusing to hand them to the Villarreal players, as happened with Diego LÃÂ³pez who even appeared to push one of the little blighters over at one point.
Ã¢ÂÂDisgraceful,Ã¢ÂÂ blasted Alvaro Negredo. Ã¢ÂÂThis isnÃ¢ÂÂt the behaviour of a senior team,Ã¢ÂÂ noted Diego Capel.
LLL disagrees. This is exactly the kind of behaviour you'd expect from a side whose players spend a large amount of their time hurling themselves to the ground and faking injuries to get an advantage, so itÃ¢ÂÂs no surprise that the ball boys are in on the act too.
Oh yes. LLL forgot - Sevilla have done this before in February's clash against HÃÂ©rcules...
A third defeat in five now sees Espanyol slipping from the European places, to the fringes of the European places to quite a long way from the European places.
Ã¢ÂÂA game of few goals as Deportivo were one of the teamsÃ¢ÂÂ - Gol TV commentator proving that it isnÃ¢ÂÂt just LLL cracking cheap jokes at Dull DeportivoÃ¢ÂÂs expense during the Galician teamÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 defeat at HÃÂ©rcules.
Racing, Real Sociedad
Defeats for both sides throws both teams back in the fringes of the relegation fight,
Two identical headed efforts from corners being conceded by Getafe were bad enough in the defeat to Mallorca, but a ball ballooned over the bar in front of an open goal by Javier Arizmendi was perhaps the low (or high, depending on how you yank your crank) light of GetafeÃ¢ÂÂs defeat.