Good Day, Bad Day: Saint Iker’s save, Soldado’s strikes & Manzano's misery

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Good Day

José Mourinho
The Madrid manager still looked utterly miserable after his team’s 6-2 victory over Sevilla, and as well he might considering he had to face endless questions from ranting local journalists about the financial inequalities in la Liga, all of which were met not unreasonably with indifferent shrugs and responses of ‘not my problem, mate’.
Mourinho had claimed as early as Monday that his side would bounce back from their Barcelona battering and be top of the table at Christmas, and so it came to pass. While Barça have struggled away from home this season - Santiago Bernabeu aside - Madrid continue to take their away day adventures very seriously indeed, something that could be key when the title race continues in 2012.

Iker Casillas
Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di María should have a couple of spots in the Good Day section but, quite frankly, LLL is a little bored of writing about their endless goals and assists.  For the record it was four and two for the pair respectively on Sunday. Instead the blog has decided to shine its torch of truth on Iker Casillas, this time around, as the Madrid captain hasn’t really had the chance to pull any whoppers out of his goalkeeping net this season.
‘San Iker’ certainly did in the Sánchez Pizjuán with an astonishing stop from Manu del Moral, that was reminiscent of an effort against Diego Perotti two years ago in the same fixture. That was followed by another fine effort from Piotr Trochowski to help withstand an early battering from Sevilla and keep Madrid in the game to produce their eventual thwacking.

Roberto Soldado
Two cracking goals for the Valencia man making it 11 in la Liga this season, ends a worryingly wobbly spell for the Mestalla men and seals what has largely been a solid start to the season for Valencia despite the club’s Champions League exit.

Drawing 1-1 with visiting Villarreal with just ten minutes to go, Osasuna needed something old school to break the deadlock. And that’s what they produced, with Sergio scoring a trademark header from a trademark corner for another trademark Osasuna victory that sees the Pamplona side in fifth going into the winter break. 

Espanyol’s rather exciting young French striker Thievy launched a screamer of a shot just two minutes into the match to give Espanyol a 2-1 win at Sporting. It gave Espanyol back-to-back wins before the winter break to help calm a few concerns about a Perico lack of firepower.

Athletic Bilbao
It certainly wasn’t a mighty purty performance to beat Zaragoza 2-1, with Athletic down to ten men after the referee sent off Javi Martínez for a perfectly good tackle and gave the visitors a penalty in the process. But Athletic kept on plugging away in the second half when Zaragoza were also reduced to ten men and local hero, Gaizka Toquero, came up with a late winner to end a run of three matches without a win.

Pepe Mel
Betis are being rewarded for sticking with coach Pepe Mel, despite a awful spell that produced nine defeats and a draw. Betis have now won their last two games and looked more than decent in Sunday lunchtime’s 2-0 victory over Atlético Madrid.

Seeing Getafe playing away from home and ending up scoring more goals than their opponents is a most peculiar sensation seeing as the Coliseum club hasn’t managed it since December 19th of last year, making three points on their travels a newly-formed Christmas tradition for Getafe.  Saturday’s 2-1 win over Mallorca after two goals from Abdel Barrada was also the first time the side had managed two or more league victories in a row in about a year. The last time that happened was (anyone, anyone, anyone?) December 19th last year.

Racing Santander
The goalless draw against a 10-men Real Sociedad still keeps Racing in the relegation zone but the result does see the Cantabrian club undefeated in the last three games ever since their trio of trainers took over from Héctor Cúper.

Bad Day

To lose 6-2 at home is more than a little careless. To do it two years in a row to the same opponent as a hapless Sevilla have now managed is quite ludicrous. In just one match, Marcelino’s men managed to increase by half and then some the goals that a previously tight Sevilla had conceded so far this season.
A host of early chances were missed - LLL is looking at Manu del Moral for a couple of them - and Real Madrid scored whenever they wanted. “I have the feeling that we’re a team that has highs and lows and we played a match today that’s very hard to explain,” mused Marcelino the manager.

Gregorio Manzano
LLL discovered that it did have a heart after all. The blog was up in the stands watching the Atlético Madrid manager on the touchline being roundly abused by the crowd for a good 45 minutes. It’s no wonder Manzano prefers to sit on the bench - something that also generates wrath from the Vicente Calderón crowd.
Despite Atlético playing reasonably well for much of the game against Betis, the side simply weren’t able to take their chances with the horribly off-form Falcao missing two very early sitters which would have surely given the Rojiblancos a comfy victory. Instead, Betis stayed patient, waiting for Juanfran’s inevitable errors and came away from the Spanish capital with a 2-0 win - a defeat for Manzano that will surely be the end for his brief but troubled (second) spell at Atlético Madrid, a team now just four points off the relegation zone.

Three defeats in four for Sporting, the most recent of which against Espanyol, leaves Manuel Preciado with a fun of a five month relegation battle to come in 2012.

Sporting's failure to pick up points this weekend leaves Villarreal out of the relegation zone, but only on goal difference. The 2-1 defeat to Osasuna on Sunday sees Villarreal fans set to suffer a very unhappy Christmas.

Some comedy defending some Zaragoza against Athletic Bilbao, especially in the first half for Markel Susaeta’s goal, sees Javier Aguirre’s side going into the Christmas break, rock bottom of the table and on a run of five straight defeats. “The dressing room is really down, but la Liga carries on,” admitted the club’s plucky Mexican manager. “Other clubs are moving away from us, but where there’s life there’s hope.”