Good Day, Bad Day: Marvellous Messi and Champions League-chasing Levante

Good Day

Leo Messi
An un-flippin’-believable performance from the scruffy-haired Argentine genius, who has now scored 12 goals with nine assists in all competitions this season.
La Liga Loca was catching the game in a very partisan bar outside the Santiago Bernabeu straight after Madrid’s 6-2 over Rayo, and the response from the locals to Messi’s hat-trick was a mixture of admiration, disbelief and complete annoyance. Probably similar to Atlético’s back four in the Camp Nou who were largely powerless to stop Messi’s mayhem.
Atlético Madrid were given one proper chance in the game - a strike against the bar from Tiago after four minutes - and that was it. When Barça are in the mood there really is no stopping them. “They’re from another planet,” gasped Atlético Madrid keeper, Thibaut Courtois, in wise agreement.

LLL thought it would be tough for anyone at Levante to beat Luis García’s achievements last season. While the current Getafe manager’s impressive boast was keeping Levante in la Primera, replacement Juan Ignacio Martínez is top-trumping García by apparently gunning for the Champions League places, with wins over Real Madrid, Rayo and now Espanyol leaving Levante in third.  
“We have to think that we are a quarter of the way to staying up with five games gone with 11 points but not about the Champions League,” said the kill-joy Levante manager after the game.

Sevilla have been particularly sneaky at the start of this season. The side haven’t really played especially well in any of their five games in la Liga - indeed, they have only scored six goals, but remain unbeaten and in fourth. This achievement was especially praiseworthy in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Valencia as at one point it was the nine men of Sevilla against the eleven of their visitors.

Real Madrid
Both Madrid papers were happy to claim Madrid had “left the tunnel” as Marca put it, but LLL is far from convinced. The 6-2 win over Rayo Vallecano was perhaps the least convincing 6-2 win there has ever been. Rayo’s early opener after 15 seconds was produced by a lovely assist from Lassana Diarra, while the second came from a set-piece. And did José Mourinho not like that. “It’s the most basic thing in football and it gave them hope,” complained the Madrid manager.
The one positive from the performance perhaps was the fantastic speed of the counterattacks for Madrid that will catch most teams out, never mind an overly-committed Rayo. But even Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t seem to be too excited about his hat-trick, the Portuguese’s tenth in la Liga.

Michael Laudrup
Mallorca doesn’t seem like being the most wonderful of working environments for Michael Laudrup, so perhaps his team’s 2-1 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday was a bad result in the long run for a manager who has fallen out big time with Vice President and main shareholder, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer. “It’s tough asking for calm here,” noted Laudrup, “this victory won’t change anything.”

Rayo's big man up front scored a brace and was typical of the kind of gutsy attacking display promised by Rayo manager José Sandoval before the 6-2 defeat. Another player to impress in the Santiago Bernabeu was 19-year-old Guinean winger, Lass Bangoura, a footballer that Madrid are reportedly interested in signing.

Although Zaragoza were by no means bombarded by Málaga in Sunday’s late kick-off, a couple of key saves by the keeper against a yet-to-score Ruud van Nistelrooy and Seba Fernández gave the home side a point in a goalless draw.

A second goal for Granada and another point in a 1-1 draw with Osasuna to keep the newcomers out of the relegation zone.

The home clash against a goal-shy Racing was a whopper of a chance for Sporting to pick up their first points of the season. In the plural. Instead it was just the one in a goalless draw with Sporting managing just two goals this season. “It’s a negative dynamic that we have to try and break and when we do it everything will be different,” promised Manuel Preciado.

Bad Day

Víctor Valdés
LLL is probably quite alone in thinking this, but the blog really doesn’t like goalkeepers excessively celebrating their own’s team’s goals, largely because they had nothing to do with them. The Barça goalie is particularly guilty of the blog’s picky crime with his endless fist pumping and roaring to greet every one of Barcelona’s goals. Rant over.

Emir Spahic
What an enormous big girl’s blouse of a sneaky so-and-so. Ariz Aduriz put his boot on top of the Sevilla’s defender’s - it wasn’t a stamp or any kind of funny business like that - and the Croatian stopper went down clutching his shin to get the Valencia forward sent off.

Ever Banega
A missed penalty from the Argentinean midfielder cost the Mestalla men at least a point in Seville.

The big lady-haired loser in the battle between ‘the flea and the tiger’. Not really the Colombian’s fault as the Atlético Madrid striker barely had the ball.

Walter Pandiani
The Rifle appeared to head butt the back of Levante defender Nano - a member of a team who do tend to go down rather easily - to get himself a pleasingly pointless red card.

Racing Santander
LLL can’t decide whether it is a help or hindrance for Racing to have the colour of their away kit the exact same shade as grass. On a bad TV it would look like Sporting were playing with themselves on Sunday, as it were. If Racing ever signed Kermit, he would be invisible. And probably be better up front, too.

Athletic Bilbao
“The game created optimism” claimed Athletic manager, Marcelo Biesla, after the 1-1 draw against Villarreal but the Basque side still only have two points from 15 to leave them in the bottom two instead of the two six where they should be. “This is getting worrying,” fretted Marca’s match report. The Argentinean coach really needs to get six from six from his team in the upcoming local matches against Real Sociedad and Osasuna to avoid a quick kick in the knackers and the sack.