Good Day, Bad Day: Resistant Real, sturdy Soldado & awful Atlético (again)
Real MadridIt was no wonder JosÃÂ© Mourinho leapt upon a startled JosÃÂ© CallejÃÂ³n and demanded a piggy-back during the 3-2 win over Valencia. It was a huge sign of relief during a tense match from which the three points collected will go a long, long way in the title race.Although the three point advantage over Barcelona still stands, Real Madrid had by far the easier start to the season in la Liga. But in the sideÃ¢ÂÂs first proper tough-as-old-boots match, Madrid came out on top with a 3-2 win in an encounter that Barcelona were only able to draw 2-2. Ã¢ÂÂA victory you remember at the end of the season,Ã¢ÂÂ confirmed Iker Casillas. Of course, there are very strong claims that the 3-2 should have been 3-3, had a late spot-kick been awarded to Valencia and then converted. Ã¢ÂÂIt was a penalty!Ã¢ÂÂ yelled Barcelona based Mundo DeportivoÃ¢ÂÂs headline on Monday. Call LLL old-fashioned (and closet Madridista, as some will no doubt claim) but the referee made the right decision in not awarding an injury-time spot-kick after Gonzalo HiguaÃÂnÃ¢ÂÂs controversial block. If you are not sure that an infringement took place, then donÃ¢ÂÂt act on it. But Madrid fans will continue to claim that the chest was used in the act and Barcelona will say the arm despite there being no conclusive proof either way. Of course, if David Villa was the player involved, the positions would be reversed. TÃ¢ÂÂwas ever so and...er....TÃ¢ÂÂwis ever will be.
Leo MessiLike a battery-advertising bunny, Leo Messi shrugged off reports - from himself, to be fair - that he was tired after the international break with a 90-minute display in the 4-0 win over Zaragoza and his 15th league goal of the season. Barcelona have now scored 30 goals in their seven league matches in the Camp Nou this season without a single effort being conceded.
Roberto SoldadoHonk! Honk! U-turn ahoy from La Liga Loca! The blog has always felt that the striker didnÃ¢ÂÂt quite have the cojones and finishing prowess for full international football. It is reversing position now after two excellently taken goals in a huge game for Valencia and a gutsy, defiant performance both pre and during SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs Mestalla match.
Athletic BilbaoSadly LLL wasnÃ¢ÂÂt able to catch the Athletic win over Sevilla on Sunday due to its la Liga duties at the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n - and boy did it regret that about ten minutes in - but apparently it missed a corker of a performance from a team that have now gone 11 games unbeaten in Spain and Europe. Marcelo BielsaÃ¢ÂÂs master plan of adding flair to AthleticÃ¢ÂÂs physicality appears to be working a treat with the Basque side now pushing their way to the European places after a ropey start to the season.
JosÃÂ© Antonio ReyesAwful, awful, awful, awful, awful. Awful. Apart from Arda and Diego from time to time. That was LLLÃ¢ÂÂs verdict of AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs goalless first half in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs clash against Levante. The fact the blog had eaten its half-time sandwich before the match certainly didnÃ¢ÂÂt help. But LLL was not alone, with the club's bored-out-of-their-minds supporters - and there werenÃ¢ÂÂt that many in the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n - whistling the players of the pitch after a dour first forty-five minutes.Thankfully, in the second half Reyes returned from his exile that stemmed from being rude to Gregorio Manzano after a substitution to inspire AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs first goal in the 3-2 victory. However, there was not much Reyes could do to help the defence in a game that AtlÃÂ©tico nearly threw away twice. Ã¢ÂÂIt was a situation were I didnÃ¢ÂÂt have to be forgiven,Ã¢ÂÂ retorted the typically defiant Reyes after the match when asked if the winger was back in his managerÃ¢ÂÂs good books.
Rayo VallecanoNot many teams take points home from a visit to Osasuna, but a feisty, combative Rayo managed it with a goalless draw on Sunday. The Vallecans are now picking up points nicely having lost just the one game in the last five. And that might be handy with Valencia, AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid and Barcelona coming up in the sideÃ¢ÂÂs next four matches.
VillarrealThereÃ¢ÂÂs a certain element of The Bride clawing her way out of a grave in Kill Bill quality about Villarreal a club who are dragging themselves with broken, bloodied fingernails away from the relegation zone. Villarreal have now gone three matches unbeaten in the league without a goal being conceded thanks again to another fine display and strike from Borja Valero in the 1-0 win over Betis. Ã¢ÂÂWe are adapting to our situation,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted coach, Juan Carlos Garrido, Ã¢ÂÂwe are playing more defensively and on the counter-attack.Ã¢ÂÂ
SportingThe Asturian side is now reaping the rewards of sticking by Manuel Preciado through the annual tough spot that Sporting now seem to endure. Sporting have gone unbeaten in five having won three of those games - the latest of those matches being a late, late victory against a ten-man Getafe.
SevillaA good start to the season is fizzling away, with Sevilla now without a victory six matches. SundayÃ¢ÂÂs setback came against Athletic Bilbao, despite Sevilla being able to play with both Alvaro Negredo and Freddie KanoutÃÂ© from the start. Ã¢ÂÂThere were a lot of individual duals and we lost the majority of them,Ã¢ÂÂ moaned Marcelino after the 2-1 defeat.
Real BetisWretched stuff from Real Betis who have now picked up just one point in the last 24 and not scored since sometime in 1983. Well, in 472 minutes anyway which is the sideÃ¢ÂÂs worst run in la Primera.
GranadaA bad day for the club, its fans, its president and manager. In fact, itÃ¢ÂÂs a AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid-style clean sweep from LLL. Bad for the club and fans as Granada were 2-1 up in a clash against Mallorca before the referee Clos GÃÂ³mez suspended the game after his assistant was hit in the face by an umbrella thrown from the stands. Bad for the Granada president, Quique Pina, who said his club and organisation were not be blamed for the incident and besides the alleged chucker was not a member and was also Moroccan. And it was bad for the Granada coach, Fabri, who sort of missed the point of the seriousness of the event by arguing that the game could have continued seeing as the fourth official was a suitable substitute for his bleeding colleague.One of the refereeÃ¢ÂÂs roles is to look after the safety of both the players and his officiating team and in suspending the game, GÃÂ³mez did the right thing no matter how loud the complaints will be this week.
Philippe MontanierA home game against an Espanyol side which is not the most prolific was a fine chance for a win for la Real and the side.Ã¢ÂÂs very unhappy fans. Instead it was boo city in San Sebastian after a goalless draw on Sunday. Real SociedadÃ¢ÂÂs manager is hanging onto his job with his French finger nails.