Good Day, Bad Day: A Marvellous Messi and a Golden Goalkeeper
Little Leo was insanely good in spells in BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao that should steady a few nerves in the Catalan capital without the need to resort to a swift drink or two.
With the Sunday night score at 1-1 after an early David Villa goal and penalty converted by Iraola - and the headline writers in Madrid about to release Ã¢ÂÂHay Liga!Ã¢ÂÂ onto the world for a second weekend running - Messi popped up with a winner in the second half and it was just reward for a spell of pressure on Athletic where Messi was truly sublime.
Ã¢ÂÂMessi and this Barcelona are the two greatest things in the world,Ã¢ÂÂ gasped an over-excited Joan Batlle in Sport on Monday.
For just one evening, MadridÃ¢ÂÂs torturous and utterly pointless 2-0 win over Levante reduced the gap with Barcelona to two points. This temporary lift was bubbly enough to get TomÃÂ¡s Roncero all excited, with the AS man declaring that his beloved team are indestructible by comparing Madrid to the evil cyborg in Terminator 2.
Ã¢ÂÂYou think you have melted him with a temperature of 3000 degrees and he reunites his molecules once again,Ã¢ÂÂ gasped Roncero admiringly after a game where Levante turned up with a five-man defence and had no intention of trying anything at all.
Another slip-up at home, this time against Sporting, but one that has had its impact reduced somewhat due to fourth-placed Villarreal dropping points against MÃÂ¡laga.
Deportivo super striker Riki is set to be looking over his shoulder - not to see the offside flag going up yet again, but to catch sight of AranzubÃÂa just three goals behind him the the clubÃ¢ÂÂs scoring charts. While it's always good to have competition in the ranks at Deportivo Ã¢ÂÂ a club where goals are as scarce as... er... goals for Deportivo Ã¢ÂÂ Riki will be a tad upset by this statistic as AranzubÃÂa is a goalkeeper.
Desperate times at Depor call for desperate measures Ã¢ÂÂ which is why, some five minutes into injury time with the side 1-0 down at AlmerÃÂa, the keeper went up for a corner and ended up heading an equalising effort to scenes of immense bedlam and general mayhem.
The lunatic local press in the Spanish capital have now ditched the narrative of AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid's Doomed Campaign to AtlÃÂ©tico Heading For Europe after a Kun AgÃÂ¼ero goal stopped a run of four league defeats with a win at struggling Zaragoza.
However, these three points were very much in the balance with Zaragoza having a late rally and striking the crossbar twice. Ã¢ÂÂThe first stone in the path,Ã¢ÂÂ noted Quique on the clubÃ¢ÂÂs renewed recovery which will probably coming crashing down to earth again with a home defeat to Sevilla next weekend.
Not exactly brilliant in their 1-0 win over HÃÂ©rcules, with Alvaro Negredo perhaps the best of the bunch, but not exactly terrible either. And Gregorio Manzano will take that, with the Sevilla boss claiming before the match that he was looking for a result to make the team Ã¢ÂÂsmile a little bitÃ¢ÂÂ after ThursdayÃ¢ÂÂs 2-1 defeat at home to Porto.
Looks like a slog up to the Santiago Bernabeu in the rain to watch the reality of paint-drying portrayed in the form of a football match was still preferable to Valencia and SportingÃ¢ÂÂs goalless draw on Saturday evening, a match whose general theme seemed to be Ã¢ÂÂdullÃ¢ÂÂ according to the morning after's press ramblings.
Still, itÃ¢ÂÂs another fine result for Sporting, whose two points from the last two games against Barcelona and Valencia are as unexpected as they are welcome. Had these points not been gathered on hostile turf, Sporting would have been second-from-bottom on Monday.
Two games in charge at Racing for the marvelous Marcelino and two wins, the latest coming at Getafe with a 1-0 victory in the Coliseum. Sadly, there was no sign of the exuberant celebrations from the clubÃ¢ÂÂs owner Ali Syed after last weekendÃ¢ÂÂs antagonistic antics against Sevilla.
JosÃÂ© Luis Mendilibar
Another coach having a fine debut with his club is the new boss of Osasuna, who promised to return a more robust brand of football to the Pamplonan club and came through with Osasuna managing a 4-0 win against Espanyol that was largely owed to chucking a whole bag of crosses into the opposition box at any given opportunity.
A tough break on Sunday for Villarreal, who are now without a Primera win in three. The side should have gone into the final few minutes in the clash against MÃÂ¡laga 2-0 up after a goal from Marco RubÃÂ©n and a clear-cut, clattering penalty tackle on Nilmar by Eliseu. But the spot-kick wasnÃ¢ÂÂt given, leaving Villarreal vulnerable to a counter-attack by MÃÂ¡laga who brought the scores back to 1-1 with just eight minutes left.
There is the feeling that AranzubÃÂaÃ¢ÂÂs freak effort costing AlmerÃÂa two points at home could see the heads dropping a tad on the south coast with the side now with just one win in four and second from bottom of the table.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs going to be hard to lift the spirits of the team,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted AlmerÃÂa boss JosÃÂ© Luis Oltra after the Deportivo draw. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs really tough to see someone score like that when you have done everything to win the game.Ã¢ÂÂ
EspanyolÃ¢ÂÂs loss to Osasuna was the clubÃ¢ÂÂs fourth straight defeat and sees the side hanging onto a European place by just three points. Should this form continue for much longer, the decision to sell defenders VÃÂctor RuÃÂz and Didac may be very costly indeed.
A 1-0 defeat at Sevilla sees HÃÂ©rcules having won just the single away game in the league all season. Remarkably, itÃ¢ÂÂs the 2-0 victory in the Camp Nou.
A fine spell of three wins from three was ended by Real Madrid but striker Felipe Caicedo Ã¢ÂÂ currently on loan to Levante from Manchester City Ã¢ÂÂ says that it wonÃ¢ÂÂt stop what could be a successful survival campaign. Ã¢ÂÂIf we play with the same spirit as today then weÃ¢ÂÂll stay up,Ã¢ÂÂ said the Ecuadorian forward in a chat with LLL after a match where Caicedo wasnÃ¢ÂÂt given a sniff of a chance on goal by his team-mates.
And on the subject of what will happen over the summer after a campaign in which Caicedo has already banged home nine goals, the Man City man revealed that Ã¢ÂÂI have ambitions and the desire to go to a club which is fighting to win titles, but I am happy here at Levante, I feel very comfortable. Levante are happy with me and are keen to invoke my buy-out clause [of one million euro] so weÃ¢ÂÂll have to wait and see what happens.Ã¢ÂÂ