Good Day, Bad Day: Mourinho gives up, Messi gets lazy and Rayo make history
Knowing that Real Madrid had dropped yet more points, BarÃÂ§a could have spread out a picnic rug in the centre-circle, read poetry, knotted daisies into each otherÃ¢ÂÂs air and let AtlÃÂ©tico do whatever they wanted for 90 minutes, knowing that their lead over their old chums from the capital would still be a monumental one.
That probably would have resulted in a 2-0 advantage after 10 minutes, with Diego GodÃÂn left to his own special devises. But BarÃÂ§a managed to pull out yet another victory, despite going behind to a rampant Falcao effort in the first half, a lead that was only permitted to last five minutes. The tricky job of Tito Vilanova now is to keep on insisting that the title race isnÃ¢ÂÂt over, despite AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid being nine points behind and Real Madrid distracted by tussle for a Champions League spot with MÃÂ¡laga and Levante.
Needed a decent performance and a goal after disappearing against Real Madrid, and thatÃ¢ÂÂs what the Colombian delivered in the first half at the Camp Nou.
This is set up quite beautifully as a pre-Christmas finale. Three wins from four - the most recent being a 2-0 victory at Sevilla - sees MÃÂ¡laga back on track in la Liga, with just the final date next week against a side with iffy away form and led by a certain down-in-the-dumps Portuguese coach who once sniffed that he wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt ever dream of lowering himself to managing a club such as MÃÂ¡laga.
Time for a little bit of love for the grizzled Levante goalkeeper (37 years old) who kept a second clean sheet in a row for his side in la Liga, to give another victory to the mighty Valencia team after a 1-0 win at Zaragoza. Also helping out in defence were Sergio Ballesteros (37), Juanfran (36) and Dirty David Navarro (32).
What the Lords of Football doth take away in cruel hot pokers of misfortune, they then doth giveth back quite quickly sometimes. Last weekend at Real Sociedad, the mighty Geta were seconds away from a victory but conceded a goal in injury time to leave Luis GarcÃÂa dreaming about what might have been. Against Osasuna on Saturday in a match where not a great deal happened until the final minutes, Kike SolaÃ¢ÂÂs odd effort looked like producing a home defeat for Getafe. But in injury time the linesman and referee popped up to award a spot-kick for a handball that never was from PuÃÂ±al to leave the score 1-1.
Valencia's supporters were on the hefty back of the Rayo forward from the off after a bit of a disappointing spell in Mestalla with the local fans yelling Ã¢ÂÂdrunkÃ¢ÂÂ at the Argentine. But it was Chori who put away a penalty seven minutes from the end to award Rayo a wonderfully surprising away win. Ã¢ÂÂChori responded as he had to, with a great game,Ã¢ÂÂ said Rayo boss, Paco JÃÂ©mez, after the match.
Always prepared. Supposedly easy home game against Rayo, a side who have never won in Mestalla in la Liga. A brand new coach to welcome. But the home support still bring their white hankies to wave in disgust at the end of the game, just in case.
Ã¢ÂÂBooooom!Ã¢ÂÂ popped LLLÃ¢ÂÂs mind after seeing the immensely powerful header from Aduriz to give Athletic Bilbao a narrow 1-0 victory over one of his former clubs in the shape of Mallorca. With Fernando Llorente even more outcast than before, an awful lot of goal-scoring pressure has been piled onto the creaking strikerÃ¢ÂÂs shoulders this season. Nevertheless, Aduriz has popped in 9 from open play, just two less than Falcao and one less than Ronaldo.
Sort of good day for Granada, in that the Andalusian side didnÃ¢ÂÂt lose in what ended up being a goalless draw at home to Real Sociedad. The bad side to the result though is that it sees Granada going five league matches without a goal with Ã¢ÂÂ¬5m signing, Youssef El Arabi, starting the clash against the Basques on the bench, a whopping signing that hasnÃ¢ÂÂt worked too well for Granada so far.
The Espanyol goalkeeper may sound like a two year old trying to pronounce the name of his counterpart for Real Madrid on Sunday night, but the Perico had a sparkling performance to frustrate Real Madrid for those moments during the game when the home side were beginning to click.
Snore. Another brace for the Argentinean. How about a hat-trick some time, lazy Leo?
Thirteen points off Barcelona and with 15 dropped so far this season, Real Madrid have lost more points by the middle of December than in the entire 2011/12 campaign. AS point out with some dejection that the 100 points tally in la Primera is now impossible.
A lousy weekend all round really for the Real Madrid boss. It began on Saturday afternoon with the story of a Radio Marca journalist being taken off to a side room after the pre-Espanyol press conference to be grilled by the Madrid boss over a source in the dressing room for a story about the unpopularity of the clubÃ¢ÂÂs goalkeeping coach with the players.
Ã¢ÂÂIn the world of football, I and my people are the Ã¢ÂÂtopÃ¢ÂÂ and in the world of journalism you are a sh*t,Ã¢ÂÂ was the alleged accusation to AntÃÂ³n Meana in a report by the journalist of the meeting in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs edition of Marca.
Rather than continuing to grump after Sunday's 2-2 draw with Espanyol, the Portuguese boss was entirely dejected, admitting that winning the league was Ã¢ÂÂpractically impossibleÃ¢ÂÂ despite it still being December. Bernd Schuster was practically fired for saying that winning a single game of football was more or less impossible. Such defeatism isnÃ¢ÂÂt supposed to be the Real Madrid way. JosÃÂ© Mourinho now looks like a figure who simply doesnÃ¢ÂÂt know what to do with his team, both on and off the field.
At least the fans werenÃ¢ÂÂt calling for the head of the manager in the sideÃ¢ÂÂs first game in Mestalla under Ernesto Valverde, which ended up being a rather surprising 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano to give Valencia a second league defeat at their ground in a row. However, the supporters did once again call for the departure of club president, Manuel Llorente, who will soon be running out of minions to sack if this current form carries on. Ã¢ÂÂI canÃ¢ÂÂt talk much about the public,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted Valverde wisely, Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm new here.Ã¢ÂÂ
A promising first half for Sevilla thrown into the bin in the second 45 minutes with a 2-0 home defeat to MÃÂ¡laga that really didnÃ¢ÂÂt go down well with the SÃÂ¡nchez PizjuÃÂ¡n support who are witnessing a wretched league campaign which sees two wins in eleven games and just one point from the last 12. Ã¢ÂÂYou shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be worrying about my situation...but of the club,Ã¢ÂÂ said Michel the Manager to the press after the defeat.
A second sending off for the defender who is more clumsy than clattering this season.
As ever with Zaragoza, if Helder Postiga is not quite at the races then the Aragonese side struggles to perform.
LLL can imagine the swearing from the Osasuna bench and JosÃÂ© Luis Mendilibar in particular was something to behold with a bad call from the refereeing team, taking away two points from his Osasuna side in injury time against Getafe. Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt think they were too sure. They took a long time to blow for the penalty. This creates doubts,Ã¢ÂÂ complained the Pamplona-based coach on a decision that cost Osasuna just the sideÃ¢ÂÂs second away win of the league campaign.
Yes, the 1-0 defeat to visiting Athletic Bilbao sees Mallorca with just two points from 33, but at least the Balearic club didnÃ¢ÂÂt lose 5-0 as they managed to do during the week in the cup to Sevilla. The defence was a little more solid, and there was a tad more action up front, too, although Mallorca really need someone scrappy to go off someoneÃ¢ÂÂs posterior to get the side going again. Ã¢ÂÂThe team had soul and gave everything,Ã¢ÂÂ said a typically pugnacious JoaquÃÂn CaparrÃÂ³s after the clash which saw Mallorca slip into the relegation zone.