Good Day, Bad Day: Rampant Ramos, a bad mood in Mestalla and Levante live!

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RESULTS Sat 25 Feb Racing Santander 1-1 Sporting Gijón; Real Betis 1-1 Getafe; Málaga 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; Atlético Madrid 1-2 Barcelona


Sergio Ramos
The Madrid defender should have been sent off for an elbow on Diego Costa. But Ramos wasn’t, 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 hasn’t had this much fun since... er... can’t say that... or that... or that. Oh.

Cristiano Ronaldo
LLL once scored a back-heeled goal in a five-a-side match, so, you know, a bit of perspective please.

Leo Messi
An opportune free-kick from little Leo gave Barça three points against Atlético Madrid, and although a fifth yellow card means the Argentinian misses next week’s visit of Sporting, it's probably a good game to sit out. “Everyone is asking for Messi to be rested: he’ll be resting next week with Pepe,” 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 Rubén Suaréz gaining the victory, but it was the side’s first win since December 10th – nine games ago – and inevitably, it returned Levante to fourth, where they have squatted for what seems like much of the season.

Fernando Llorente
A headed effort – of course – against Villarreal on the forward’s birthday gave Llorente his 13th league goal of the season and surely Spain’s No.9 shirt on Wednesday, in the absence of David Villa, Fernando Torres and the injured Alvaro Negredo.

For a couple of hours before Levante’s win at Espanyol, Málaga were in the Champions League places. That in itself was an eyebrow-raising surprise considering Málaga’s 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.

Andrés Fernandez
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.

Jesús Navas
After some disgruntled murmurs when the Sevilla midfielder was called up to the Spain squad to face Venezuela on Wednesday, Navas answered his critics – LLL can’t believe it just wrote that cliché, but then again it can – with a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win at Valencia. A very handy return to form under Míchel.

Rayo Vallecano
LLL is still a bit giddy from this encounter. Not because there was anything especially brilliant about it as a match – neutrals watching at home may have switched off in the first half n– 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 – 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. “In the overall count, we deserved to win – but this isn’t boxing, but football,” observed the Betis boss with unflinching accuracy. But then Mel looked on the much brighter side: “We have 30 points and are playing good football.”

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.

Racing, Sporting
The old cliché 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 – 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 Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Sevilla, no matter what the side did against Stoke in the Europa League.

"Grrrrrr! Thump! Thump! Thump!” That’s the sound of Paul from Barcelona grinding his teeth to dust and kicking himself – and maybe Espanyol’s players – after a home defeat against Levante and a missed chance to maintain a Champions League spot.

“Still 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.”

Atlético Madrid
A first defeat under Diego Simeone, but no disgrace considering the opposition. The current Atlético 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, Atlético were only a few great Víctor Valdés saves away from picking up a point against Barça late on Sunday night.

The match also showed what an immense home support the Vicente Calderón club has when it’s in the right mood – aside from the despicable Ultras, who sang “Alves, you’re a monkey” when the Real defender was substituted.

The bottom-dwellers were doing reasonably well on Saturday, having taken the lead against Málaga. 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 Jiménez storming out of the press room after a brief appearance, suggesting his footballers learn to play for 90 minutes and that he felt “ashamed".