Good Day, Bad Day: Pep's back and Reyes is roasting
Not too much to talk about with Barcelona and their 1-0 home win over Zaragoza best described as perfunctory. But itÃ¢ÂÂs a better day for Pep Guardiola, who got the go-ahead to leave hospital on Monday after two nights being bed-bathed by buxom BarÃÂ§a-loving nurses whilst suffering from a hernia in his back.
There were some omens for Madrid ahead of the visit to Racing: the absence of the injured Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time in the league; the news that KakÃÂ¡ will be missing until further notice (or until another tournament is on the horizon for Brazil); the sensation that Florentino PÃÂ©rez was suffering from from one vol-au-vent too many at the pre-match din-dins. That was certainly the impression gained from the shots of the Madrid president sat in the Ã¢ÂÂpalcoÃ¢ÂÂ with his jowly face of thunder.
As it turned out, in the opening 45 minutes of a 3-1 win Madrid played one of their best halves of the season, invoking Barcelona comparisons in the next dayÃ¢ÂÂs press after players unselfishly passed to each other rather than taking regular potshots into the stands followed by preening pouts. Not that this has anything to do with the absence of a certain shiny-faced superstar.
The permanently bewildered-looking Pablo is a frequent victim of Unai EmeryÃ¢ÂÂs tinkering tendencies, but he started the game at Mallorca on Saturday and banged in a couple of lovely efforts in a 2-1 victory that nicely holds third place for Valencia. Of course, that doesnÃ¢ÂÂt mean that the midfielder will be featuring against Schalke on Wednesday, with the Valencia boss no doubt having planned changes before the weekendÃ¢ÂÂs game had even begun.
The Villarreal midfielder may have been on the losing side on Saturday, but Valero was by far the best thing on the pitch against AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid, perhaps the only spark of life in a team that Cani admits is starting to feel more than a little tired after a busy campaign so far.
JosÃÂ© Antonio Reyes
Whilst there has been an awful lot of fuss and rather tedious statistics pieces being churned out in the Spanish football press about the lack of goals from Diego ForlÃÂ¡n and Kun AgÃÂ¼ero this season in la Liga Ã¢ÂÂ just 17 between them Ã¢ÂÂ AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs diving dazzler Reyes has been largely overlooked despite being one of the season's best Rojiblanco performers. Then again, thereÃ¢ÂÂs hardly much competition in that particular tiara-winning category.
Both Kun and La Rubia managed to get onto the scoresheet in a comfortable (but frackinÃ¢ÂÂ cold) Saturday night at the CalderÃÂ³n, but it was Reyes once again who shook things up a bit with a corker of an opening goal and many a charge down the flanks Ã¢ÂÂ charges that usually ended with a tumble and desperate look at the ref.
A cr*p 2-0 win, with cr*p goals against a cr*p Sevilla in a cr*p game stops a cr*p run of four cr*p defeats for Athletic Bilbao.
And the dream stays alive: LevanteÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 over Espanyol was the sideÃ¢ÂÂs fifth win in seven. Wonderful, wonderful stuff from Luis GarcÃÂaÃ¢ÂÂs side, who more than fulfilled the pledge to make up for the torture inflicted upon supporters when the players recorded a tribute song to them last week.
After nearly 14 months, Osasuna finally get an away win in la Liga with MÃÂ¡laga happy to let them get rid of that unwanted record by failing to defend an injury-time header from Sergio.
Not sure the 1-2 win away at HÃÂ©rcules will be good enough to keep the AlmerÃÂa boat afloat in the long term after last MondayÃ¢ÂÂs loss to MÃÂ¡laga but it still keeps Ã¢ÂÂem in the relegation survival running for a wee while more.
The injury-hit side's loss at Levante was their sixth defeat in seven. Luckily, the two teams below the Pericos in the table, Sevilla and AtlÃÂ©tico, are generally too feckless to do anything about it.
Ã¢ÂÂIf your seasonÃ¢ÂÂs screwed and it donÃ¢ÂÂt look good, who you going to call? Getafe!Ã¢ÂÂ Yep, once again, la LigaÃ¢ÂÂs friendly neighbourhood chumps roll into town, do very little and lose on demand. This time it was away at Sporting.
LLL has made no attempt to disguise its dislike of HÃÂ©rcules due to match-fixing rumours last season Ã¢ÂÂ the accusations of which were Ã¢ÂÂarchivedÃ¢ÂÂ by SpainÃ¢ÂÂs governing bodies Ã¢ÂÂ and the treatment of Royston Ã¢ÂÂRickyÃ¢ÂÂ Drenthe, who had Ã¢ÂÂKKKÃ¢ÂÂ written on the walls of his house and was hounded at Alicante airport by HÃÂ©rcules supporters after initially refusing to return from the winter break having not been paid since August.
This is why the blog is delighted to see the side losing once again, this time against AlmerÃÂa, and falling into the relegation zone. LLL is already ordering in the popcorn for next SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs visit to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Marca resumed its attacks on Manuel Pellegrini on Saturday, making the MÃÂ¡laga manager the evil-doer of the week for confessing that his teamÃ¢ÂÂs heart wasnÃ¢ÂÂt really in it during the clash against Real Madrid on Thursday night.
Instead, Osasuna at home was MÃÂ¡lagaÃ¢ÂÂs big dream, a chance for three points to get them off the bottom. Unfortunately, a 16th loss in la Liga this year and a 59th goal conceded this season Ã¢ÂÂ in injury time, no less Ã¢ÂÂ sees LLL joining Marca for once and having to dish out a bit of a kick in the goolies to poor old Pellegrini whose MÃÂ¡laga side officially look in big, big trouble.