Good Day, Bad Day: Málaga make their move as Barça enjoy a quiet night

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Good Day

Cristiano Ronaldo & Gonzalo Higuaín
More steamrolling striking action from the poaching pair with Ronaldo picking up league goal number 32 of the season and the supposedly out-of-form and for-sale Argentinean striker grabbing his 17th in a cracking 3-2 win over Betis, that was a tad controversial. No surprise there this season in la Liga.

Conspiracy Theorists
And there was LLL hoping we could all go a week without discussing the referees of la Primera. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, with two huge penalty claims ignored in the Betis match following 'handballs' from Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos. LLL feels that the former was as clear as day, but that the latter was a tough one to spot with the incoming shot being whacked at such speed and a leg being involved in the moment too - if a referee can’t be sure then he can’t blow the whistle. In theory.
However, the two different views of the incidents were predictably held on Sunday with Marca praising perfect refereeing and Barcelona-based Sport crying foul over a ‘robbery’.

Leo Messi
A quiet week for little Leo with just the seven goals in two games. The last couple came in a rarity for Barcelona - a fairly comfortable away win. Heck, the Catalan club even got a soft penalty to keep everyone in the Barcelona world happy.

A 1-0 win over Levante moved Malaga into fourth place and gives even more reason to believe the blog’s spider sense that money-bags Málaga will be taking that very open fourth and final Champions League spot this season. The victory over the former fourth-placers - a team with an annual budget about €80m less than the home side - was Málaga’s third win a row, useful form to have ahead of what will probably be a disappointing, lame 4-0 capitulation at the Santiago Bernabeu next Sunday.

Two goals from two set-pieces from Osasuna - one an own goal - gave the Pamplona side a win in the local derby against Athletic Bilbao and move the Navarrans into the Europa League places.

Atlético Madrid
The 2-0 victory over Granada was the side’s first win in five league games, therefore something to be celebrated by the Rojiblanco faithful, 55,000 of whom turned up on Sunday at midday to sing their little cotton socks off. But the match was a distinctly drab one with LLL suspecting that a 1-1 draw was on the way before Falcao popped up with a second goal in injury time after miraculous run down the right wing by Juanfran.

After some recent shambolic performances, Espanyol pulled a corker out of the hat with a 5-1 win over Rayo. Paul from Barcelona was there to see the miracle take place.
“Well, where did that come from? I was expecting the worst and instead got a huge shock. 4-0 up at half time, two goals each from Uche and Coutinho. Second half, Espanyol took their foot off the gas and allowed Rayo a glimmer of hope provided by their best player on the day, Tamudo. When he scored, he didn't celebrate and received a warm round of applause. Good reception throughout. Uche got his hat trick a few minutes later.
A few points
- ‘Remontadabilidad’ or for those of you who speak Dowie "bouncebackability". The perfect answer to last week's shameful performance.
- Kalu Uche, in his first match he was more Ooh Betty than Uche (think about it ). I thought we'd signed Heskey but we have a Yakubu.
- Coutinho. More Pablo Aimar than Messi but hints of Leo in there. See his second goal.
- Sergio García - brilliant today, makes us a better team and has deservedly won over the fans. He makes Verdú a better player too.
- Paul Quaye - 16-year-old, Barça are after him, he told them to do one, makes his debut. From Ghana and the best player in his age group in Spain according to most sources, Michael Essien-esque.
-Rayo, missing a few players came to play and will be fine. Good support and to a man (80 odd) they stood up to applaud the Jarque minute. Class, well done lads."
Paul, Barcelona

For the second away match in a row in la Liga, José Mourinho was praising the opposition players, coach and supporters in a game that he once again admitted that his side were lucky to win. “Betis deserved more,” was the verdict in a match the Madrid game complained was far too open and anarchic to his liking, a testament to the very attacking, incisive approach from the home team who showed their better qualities on Saturday night, as opposed to Monday’s horror show against Levante.

Real Sociedad
It’s win, defeat, win, defeat, win at the moment for la Real, but it’s enough to keep the side out of trouble and snug in mid-table with 33 points. The latest victory was a  perfunctory one against a drab Zaragoza on Saturday afternoon. 

Bad Day

Unai Emery
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Unai’s Valencia side had already received a barracking from the home fans on Thursday after conceding two goals to PSV in what was still a 4-2 win. So you can only imagine what the reaction was to Valencia going 2-0 up against Mallorca and then only drawing 2-2 to make it just two victories in the side’s ten league games this calendar year. This awful run leaves Málaga just four points behind third, a spot which was supposed to be set in concrete for Valencia.

Rayo Vallecano
“We are going to get the tape of today’s game and throw it in the bin,” promised Rayo coach, José Ramón Sandoval, after the side’s 5-1 tonking by Espanyol in Cornella.

A similar story to the pre-Míchel Sevilla that eventually saw Marcelino getting the boot - too many chances missed too many times, on this occasion it was in the 1-0 loss at Sporting.

Two weeks ago, Manolo Jiménez was a mad as hell with his team after a late thrashing by Málaga. Then the Zaragoza manager was happy as a pie after a win against Villarreal. It was grumpy face Manolo making an appearance once again on Saturday night after a 3-0 defeat to Real Sociedad, which requires Zaragoza to win at least eight of their remaining 12 matches to stay up. Which probably isn’t going to happen. “There’s nothing else to say,” complained an exasperated Jiménez. “We gave them the win when everything was in our favour,” said a manager who appeared to be watching a very different game to everyone else.