Good Day, Bad Day: Rampant Ramos, a bad mood in Mestalla and Levante live!
RESULTS Sat 25 Feb Racing Santander 1-1 Sporting GijÃÂ³n; Real Betis 1-1 Getafe; MÃÂ¡laga 5-1 Real Zaragoza; Espanyol 1-2 Levante Sun 26 Feb Villarreal 2-2 Athletic Club; Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Real Madrid; Valencia 1-2 Sevilla; Osasuna 2-1 Granada; Real Sociedad 1-0 Mallorca; AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona
The Madrid defender should have been sent off for an elbow on Diego Costa. But Ramos wasnÃ¢ÂÂt, so instead the centre-back was able to almost single-handedly deal with every ball thrown into the Real Madrid box on Sunday (and there were a lot of them). Ramos probably hasnÃ¢ÂÂt had this much fun since... er... canÃ¢ÂÂt say that... or that... or that. Oh.
LLL once scored a back-heeled goal in a five-a-side match, so, you know, a bit of perspective please.
An opportune free-kick from little Leo gave BarÃÂ§a three points against AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid, and although a fifth yellow card means the Argentinian misses next weekÃ¢ÂÂs visit of Sporting, it's probably a good game to sit out. Ã¢ÂÂEveryone is asking for Messi to be rested: heÃ¢ÂÂll be resting next week with Pepe,Ã¢ÂÂ noted Guardiola on a suspension that the Madrid defender also has to endure.
The visitors were a tad jammy at Espanyol with a late deflected effort from RubÃÂ©n SuarÃÂ©z gaining the victory, but it was the sideÃ¢ÂÂs first win since December 10th Ã¢ÂÂ nine games ago Ã¢ÂÂ and inevitably, it returned Levante to fourth, where they have squatted for what seems like much of the season.
A headed effort Ã¢ÂÂ of course Ã¢ÂÂ against Villarreal on the forwardÃ¢ÂÂs birthday gave Llorente his 13th league goal of the season and surely SpainÃ¢ÂÂs No.9 shirt on Wednesday, in the absence of David Villa, Fernando Torres and the injured Alvaro Negredo.
For a couple of hours before LevanteÃ¢ÂÂs win at Espanyol, MÃÂ¡laga were in the Champions League places. That in itself was an eyebrow-raising surprise considering MÃÂ¡lagaÃ¢ÂÂs consistent inconsistency this season. The 5-1 scoreline over Zaragoza, which was mainly due to a late glut of goals after the opposition had given up, continued a tidy series of results which reads LWLWLW.
A solid match for the Osasuna goalkeeper gave the home side a 2-1 win against Granada and moved the Pamplona club into seventh, one point from the Champions League places.
After some disgruntled murmurs when the Sevilla midfielder was called up to the Spain squad to face Venezuela on Wednesday, Navas answered his critics Ã¢ÂÂ LLL canÃ¢ÂÂt believe it just wrote that clichÃÂ©, but then again it can Ã¢ÂÂ with a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win at Valencia. A very handy return to form under MÃÂchel.
LLL is still a bit giddy from this encounter. Not because there was anything especially brilliant about it as a match Ã¢ÂÂ neutrals watching at home may have switched off in the first half nÃ¢ÂÂ but because it was, for once, a passionate, proper contest against Real Madrid rather than the monotonous processions that have largely been the theme at the Santiago Bernabeu this season.
A big thank-you for this uncomfortably happy sensation goes to an attacking approach from the home team and the Rayo fans who sang their cotton socks off for 90 minutes Ã¢ÂÂ an effort that earned applause from Jose Mourinho as he walked off at the end.
The sheer number of teams in the Good Day section this week suggests that a happy LLL is not quite feeling itself, but hey-ho. Betis find themselves there despite a 1-1 draw at home to Getafe that Pepe Mel says was a little unfair. Ã¢ÂÂIn the overall count, we deserved to win Ã¢ÂÂ but this isnÃ¢ÂÂt boxing, but football,Ã¢ÂÂ observed the Betis boss with unflinching accuracy. But then Mel looked on the much brighter side: Ã¢ÂÂWe have 30 points and are playing good football.Ã¢ÂÂ
Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao
Sharing a feisty 2-2 draw, both teams contributed to the rarest of matches in Spain: a Sunday midday kick-off that was actually pretty good.
The old clichÃÂ© is true: the 1-1 draw did neither of these sides in the relegation zone any good. But there are positives to be taken for both teams. Sporting are still unbeaten in the two matches under Javier Clemente. Under their terrific trio of coaching staff, Racing have still only lost two matches in the last 11 games Ã¢ÂÂ one of those being at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, too many draws sees Racing still in big trouble.
A home defeat; just the one win in eight in la Liga; only five points ahead of Levante and 14 behind Barcelona. You bet your bottom that Valencia fans were not happy after SundayÃ¢ÂÂs 2-1 loss to Sevilla, no matter what the side did against Stoke in the Europa League.
"Grrrrrr! Thump! Thump! Thump!Ã¢ÂÂ ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the sound of Paul from Barcelona grinding his teeth to dust and kicking himself Ã¢ÂÂ and maybe EspanyolÃ¢ÂÂs players Ã¢ÂÂ after a home defeat against Levante and a missed chance to maintain a Champions League spot.
Ã¢ÂÂStill wondering six hours later how Espanyol didn't win. There are some days the ball just won't go in. Eagle-eyed readers will recall this from a fortnight ago, but nothing has changed: Espanyol lost a match against a bunch of thugs whom they had totally dominated.
"You know things aren't going your way when the worst player you've had in last five years (Valdo) scores against you and the ref allows attempted leg-breaking tackles. Regular readers will know how much I hate feigning injury as a tactic, and the night before the Oscars, Levante must have thought they were up for a statue. Horrible, horrible team and a jammy deflected free kick to win as well.Ã¢ÂÂ
A first defeat under Diego Simeone, but no disgrace considering the opposition. The current AtlÃÂ©tico side is primarily built not to lose, and tactic is clearly working well. But a pattern is developing, with the side playing more defensive first halves and then opening up in the second. Indeed, AtlÃÂ©tico were only a few great VÃÂctor ValdÃÂ©s saves away from picking up a point against BarÃÂ§a late on Sunday night.
The match also showed what an immense home support the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n club has when itÃ¢ÂÂs in the right mood Ã¢ÂÂ aside from the despicable Ultras, who sang Ã¢ÂÂAlves, youÃ¢ÂÂre a monkeyÃ¢ÂÂ when the Real defender was substituted.
The bottom-dwellers were doing reasonably well on Saturday, having taken the lead against MÃÂ¡laga. But the visitors eventually gave up and crashed to a 5-1 defeat after some immensely sloppy defending in the final 20 minutes of the game. It was enough to send coach Manolo JimÃÂ©nez storming out of the press room after a brief appearance, suggesting his footballers learn to play for 90 minutes and that he felt Ã¢ÂÂashamed".