Good Day, Bad Day: Inspirational Unai, Rampant Rayo and an Invisible Villarreal
RESULTS Sat 7 Apr Getafe 2-0 Sporting GijÃÂ³n; Rayo Vallecano 6-0 Osasuna; Espanyol 2-2 Real Sociedad; Real Zaragoza 1-4 Barcelona; Real Betis 3-1 Villarreal Sun 8 Apr Levante 2-0 AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid; Mallorca 0-0 Granada; Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Sevilla; Real Madrid 0-0 Valencia Mon 9 Apr MÃÂ¡laga 3-0 Racing Santander
Hello again, Mr Messi! Same shapeless haircut as usual as if your mother has done it? Two more goals, sir? Another assist, a brilliant bit of skill that nearly brought about another assist? Sounds like the usual weekend, Mr Messi. Now, would sir like something for the weekend?
LLL isn't entirely sure that it's going to help the Valencia managerÃ¢ÂÂs cause at all with the Mestalla fans, but a comfortable cruise through to the Europa League semi-finals and a masterful tactical display at the Santiago Bernabeu to frustrate Real Madrid must surely give Team Unai some respite... Nope? DidnÃ¢ÂÂt think so.
It needed just 10 minutes of work for Levante to rid themselves of sleepy AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid on Sunday in a 2-0 win to make the Valencia club official, grown-up serious contenders for the Champions League places, never mind the Europa League, after three victories in their past five games. Ã¢ÂÂIt tells you everything when we say that one AtlÃÂ©tico signing is worth three times LevanteÃ¢ÂÂs budget,Ã¢ÂÂ said a proud Juan Ignacio MartÃÂnez after a result that temporarily put his team on the same number of points as Valencia.
Getafe plod their way to the magic 42-point safety mark with seven games to go thanks to a victory so comfortable over Sporting, the tension-free home support ended up entertaining themselves in the Coliseum by joining in with the visiting supporters when they called for the head of Javier Clemente.
Ã¢ÂÂLetÃ¢ÂÂs see where we end up,Ã¢ÂÂ said Getafe boss Luis GarcÃÂa, whose team now have a decent chance of a European spot, such is the bumbling nature of the teams around them. And LLL is having a stern look at you, Espanyol and Osasuna.
A huge sigh of relief in the Basque Country after Athletic manage their first win in five. Both they and Sevilla were sluggish in the first half but the home team suddenly found their mojo and won with a traditional method: cross for Fernando Llorente to head in.
Late last week, a furious JosÃÂ© RamÃÂ³n Sandoval waved a piece of paper to the press claiming that due to a technicality of the club going into administration, he was being legally forced to return wages paid to him last summer Ã¢ÂÂ late wages, no less. The Rayo boss admitted that he was expecting a contract renewal, something that will probably ripped apart in front of his bosses' faces now.
A livid Sandoval promised that the team Ã¢ÂÂwould work harder to show that this badge is above everything else.Ã¢ÂÂ Rayo would go on a Ã¢ÂÂJapanese strikeÃ¢ÂÂ, an expression meaning trying even harder than usual. The brilliant Rayo boss and his players were true to his words with a 6-0 demolition of visiting Osasuna Ã¢ÂÂ a very handy victory after three defeats had left the Madrid side wobbling.
A brace against Osasuna makes it 15 for the rampaging Rayo marauder. LLL is behind his manager when Sandoval said that Spain should look at him after the European Championships, to add some meat and muscle to the tiki and taka.
The Seville side may not always get the results they deserve but they're never less than entertaining to watch. That was certainly the case as they tore into Villarreal, with the dynamic front duo of RubÃÂ©n Castro and Roque Santa Cruz coming up with a goal between them to give Betis back-to-back victories and a 10-point cushion from the relegation zone.
Two absolute belters for the magic Mexican makes it another week in the Good Day section for the on-loan Arsenal attacker.
The Madridista press appear to have taken SundayÃ¢ÂÂs setback against Valencia on the chin, MondayÃ¢ÂÂs papers praising the goalless draw with whoops aÃ¢ÂÂplenty and box-to-box antics. Ã¢ÂÂIt felt like a great European semi-final,Ã¢ÂÂ wrote AS editor Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o.
However, it will no doubt sink in over the next few days that MadridÃ¢ÂÂs grip on the league title has slipped remarkably over the past month, to leave the club swinging about on la PrimeraÃ¢ÂÂs rope ladder like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom. Rather than Madrid going through a sticky patch of poor form against Villarreal, MÃÂ¡laga and Valencia, perhaps itÃ¢ÂÂs because MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs men have come up against teams who are both disciplined and organised.
The bad news was that Pepe showed his loony side on Sunday when he lashed out with his foot after a tackle. The good news for the defender was that it was against his own team-mate, more by luck than design.
Ten goals in two games conceded by the Pamplona people, who have now gone into sleep mode Ã¢ÂÂ as witnessed when Rayo rushed into a 4-0 lead after 34 minutes. Ã¢ÂÂWe canÃ¢ÂÂt repeat this attitude as we represent a team, a region and a city,Ã¢ÂÂ fumed manager JosÃÂ© Luis Mendilibar ahead of what must have been a very unpleasant trip home indeed for his failing footballers.
Despite complaints of a midday kick-off on Sunday after a Thursday night game in Germany, Diego Simeone grumbled that the weekendÃ¢ÂÂs loss to Levante was not Ã¢ÂÂan excuse, but a reality.Ã¢ÂÂ LLL wonders what the reasons are for Atletico's failure to win in other 13 la Liga trips this season.
Dropped points at home in a 2-2 draw with Real Sociedad sees the Pericos on the naughty step this week. HereÃ¢ÂÂs Paul from Barcelona to tell us all about a fourth match without a win for stumbling Espanyol... except he canÃ¢ÂÂt due to bronchitis with only the energy to complain about a missed penalty by the ref! Must be serious. Get well soon, Paul from Barcelona!
Plan A for a side managed by Miguel Angel Lotina is not to concede and hope for the best. Two goals for Betis in the first half saw the Villarreal boss rifling through a very empty tactics sack for a plan B with the visitors playing a back four, a defensive duo in front of them, a full-back in front of them and a single striker and two lonely play-makers. Ã¢ÂÂWhen I came, things were worse than they are now,Ã¢ÂÂ claimed Lotina after the match, wheeling out the Ã¢ÂÂnot my faultÃ¢ÂÂ excuse nice and early.
LLL was front row and centre before Javier Clemente, who had seen his Sporting side limply fail to Getafe with barely a shot on goal. The blog was hoping for a repeat of last week's slanging match with a journalist Ã¢ÂÂ as long as it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt the thin-skinned, sensitive blog Ã¢ÂÂ but instead Clemente (who is the tiniest person youÃ¢ÂÂll ever see, by the way) spoke openly and honestly for about 20 minutes.
Having taken over in January, the Sporting boss said that thereÃ¢ÂÂs very little a coach can do in such a short spell aside from motivate the team, lift spirits if possible and try to fix any glaring errors. Clemente pointed out the fundamental issue with Sporting is that the team are hardworking and Ã¢ÂÂhonestÃ¢ÂÂ but collectively are not good enough for la Primera. Ã¢ÂÂIf you are going to compete in a Formula 1 race, then you need a Formula 1 car or else you are going to finish last in every race.Ã¢ÂÂ