La Liga's Good Day, Bad Day - Round 24
Ding dong merrily on high, there may actually be something resembling a contest in La Liga this season after Saturday nightÃ¢ÂÂs nuttiness.
It was an outstanding evening that evoked memories of the titillating title chase from two years ago, which finished with Madrid knocking a pant-peeing Barcelona off their perch after an incredible chase. It was an evening that gives the Castle Greyskull crew a sliver of hope of repeating the feat once again.
It also means that a lacklustre La Liga Loca wonÃ¢ÂÂt have to spend Sunday evenings watching that show with the beaky-nosed bird who sees dead people to pass the time.
Despite AS and Marca frantically leaping up and down like Xavi trying to see over the bar at a lap dancing club, the seven-point margin between the two teams could easily return to 10 next weekend, with Espanyol hosting Madrid in the Montjuic and Barcelona travelling to AtlÃÂ©tico in a match where, quite frankly, anything can and probably will happen.
But until that happens, La Liga Loca is siding with the neutrals and enjoying the new state of affairs in Spain. However temporary it may turn out to be.
Huntelaar helps himself to a brace
SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs win at the Camp Nou was the first in 27 years for Espanyol. Indeed, it may well have been their first victory in La Liga for 27 years, so rotten have the Pericos been of late. Watching the bedlam in the Catalan capital was Paul from Barcelona.
Ã¢ÂÂWell that's the world turned upside down. Bottom beats top. The Unwinnables beat the Unbeatables. BarÃÂ§a have a player sent off against Espanyol for the first time. Maybe harshly, though Nene probably thinks 'you don't know what harsh is' - see previous league game this season, for those of you with short memories. Hello Messi, Xavi.
There were what is known as some 'tasty tackles' Toure's second half one on Moises was much worse that Keita's red card one. The crowd decided that booing the ref was more important than supporting the team.
Yes, BarÃÂ§a dominated the first half but Espanyol defended incredibly well. Second half, Messi didn't fancy it, well played David Garcia. ValdÃÂ©s won't go near YouTube for years and Espanyol could have scored more on the break. I didn't think BarÃÂ§a ever really looked like equalising.
Overall, a fantastic battling performance from Espanyol who deserved to win. Pochettino got his tactics spot on. BarÃÂ§a looked sluggish and at times not up for a battle but they will still win the league by a mile.
I'm taking a leaf out of Pep's book by winning with dignity as this is how he took defeat. Unlike some of his players. Real Madrid next week. Should be a cracker.
Hands up who thought this was going to be a gloat and insult extravaganza?Ã¢ÂÂ
(La Liga Loca puts its hand up)
Old boy Ivan silences the Camp Nou
The Sevilla midfielder may possess the mind of weak and feeble woman - and the body too - but Jesus Navas is single-handedly keeping Sevilla in the Champions League places this season.
The acorn-sized attacker from Andalusia is now the top assist-maker in La Liga and popped up with a late winner against AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid on Saturday night. And this comes after two set-ups against Espanyol the previous weekend.
Villarreal are only in this section due to the fact that they managed to win their home game against Sporting. Just. But the team can count their lucky stars that theyÃ¢ÂÂve not been batted into the Bad Day brigade after the post match moans from Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean coach noted after the 2-1 victory that Ã¢ÂÂitÃ¢ÂÂs not easy to score against a team that comes to defend.Ã¢ÂÂ
Sporting have been described as many things this season, but defensive is not one of them. The side from Gijon have conceded 53 league goals so far and have yet to draw a game. In fact they scored their opener in El Madrigal within 20 seconds of the opening whistle.
Manager, Manuel Preciado, wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt know the meaning of the word Ã¢ÂÂdefensiveÃ¢ÂÂ if it spent a week with a white board patiently explaining itself to the Sporting coach.
If youÃ¢ÂÂre an oddball thatÃ¢ÂÂs into your geographical stats then hereÃ¢ÂÂs a good one for you. Up until this weekend, MÃÂ¡laga had had as much soccer success away from Andalusia as JosÃÂ© Antonio Reyes.
All the clubÃ¢ÂÂs victories had taken place inside the regionÃ¢ÂÂs bonkers borders. But that was until Sunday, when the new - but a lot more entertaining - Malaga came away from Valladolid with a 3-1 victory to leave them in the UEFA Cup places, three points clear of poor old Atleti.
Malaga march on
The 2-0 victory over Numancia makes it five matches unbeaten now for the mighty men from Pamplona.
An iffy penalty for Mallorca - and an even iffier execution from JosÃÂ© Jurado - gave the Balearic club a 1-0 win over Racing and a slight sniff of a survival chance.
La Liga Loca is happy to applaud (and often steal) a fine gag when it sees it. And thatÃ¢ÂÂs what itÃ¢ÂÂs doing today by giving the AS man a pat on the back for wondering whether Joan Laporta has Ã¢ÂÂcalled his Uzbek friend to see if he can buy Espanyol and take them home with him. Without commission.Ã¢ÂÂ
Patxi Alonso, Gica Craioveanu
SpainÃ¢ÂÂs finest pundits donned Sunderland shirts for their Premier League round-up on Sunday evening. Not sure why, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
Now La Liga Loca has no idea if SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs defeat to Espanyol is the start of a big bottle from Barcelona, or a simple reflection of the fact that the Catalan club wonÃ¢ÂÂt be winning every game this season.
The blog was tied up with Bernabeu business on Saturday night and unable to catch the chaos at the Camp Nou, but what it saw from the highlights was two teams booting the crap out of each other with one of them coming out winners in the end.
While Pep took the defeat on his heroic chin with his comment that Ã¢ÂÂif we lose, then itÃ¢ÂÂs our fault,Ã¢ÂÂ the local press have been blaming the sending off of Seydou Keita for the setback.
They have also been staggeringly hypocritical in their post match reactions. Ã¢ÂÂThis defeat should serve as a lesson and an example,Ã¢ÂÂ wrote an unbearably smug Josep Maria Casanovas in Sport.
But he was quite right to note this, although the lesson was for his colleagues in the Catalan capital and not Barcelona, who have never claimed the league title would be a cakewalk.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre not dreaming, just making plans for the future,Ã¢ÂÂ wrote a certain Snr Casanovas in Sport at the end of January on his certainty that Barcelona would surely reach the finals of the Copa Del Rey and Champions League.
Just one example of the local press writing that an unbeatable BarÃÂ§a simply have to turn up to win games, these days.
Last week, La Liga Loca asked whether it was time for Barcelona fans to show some love for their much maligned goalkeeper. The blog probably won't be doing that again.
"Why La Liga Loca? WHY???"
MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs fabulous offers of tat this weekend didnÃ¢ÂÂt just include MP3 speakers in the shape - and the size - of the Bernabeu but a lovely AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid watch. All be it, a watch with the last three minutes missing.
Last weekend against Getafe, the rojiblancos made it all the way to the 87 minute mark before deciding the game was won - an action that lead to an equaliser from the visitors.
On Saturday night, it was stalemate against Sevilla until the same point when, once again, the Atleti players downed tools to allow Jesus Navas in to grab the winner.
The rojiblancos now face a Champions League tie against Porto on Tuesday and a classic no-win situation in La Liga next weekend. A victory against Barcelona will see them pick up three desperately needed points but give a huge boost to their neighbours up the road. A defeat could leave them six points off the UEFA Cup places.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂll lose to Barcelona and lose to Real Madrid and keep everyone happy,Ã¢ÂÂ predicted one rojiblanco fan to La Liga Loca when asked about this sticky situation.
A bad day for the AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid defender, not only because he had to play for the rojiblancos but because he was knocked out in a horrific clash of heads with Ndri Romaric - an incident that rules him out for a month.
But the worst was to come when, being wheeled out of the dressing room and into an ambulance with his brains still spilling out, the Colombian had to undergo interviews with the press from his stretcher.
So upset was the Valladolid bench over SundayÃ¢ÂÂs loss over MÃÂ¡laga that both manager JosÃÂ© Mendilibar and the team doctor were sent to the stands by the referee to cool their heals. But this got the blog thinking, in light of what happened to poor old Perea, isnÃ¢ÂÂt it a little bit silly to send a qualified practitioner of medicine so far away from the field of play?
Now that was funny. Especially in light of Paco ChaparroÃ¢ÂÂs pre match comments that Ã¢ÂÂBarcelona take you apart. Real Madrid just win.Ã¢ÂÂ
Chaparro: "It's OK, Madrid only ever win 1-0 ... (or 4-0, or 6-1)..."
Ã¢ÂÂAll the weekÃ¢ÂÂs planning was gone at 1-0,Ã¢ÂÂ complained, Ã¢ÂÂnuÃ¢ÂÂ Numancia manager, Pacheta on OsasunaÃ¢ÂÂs first goal against the bottom-dwellers after just two minutes.
Considering his team had lost their five previous matches it seems that PachetaÃ¢ÂÂs plan was as threadbare as Arjen RobbenÃ¢ÂÂs barnet.
AlmerÃÂaÃ¢ÂÂs minute midfielder was given his marching orders against Recreativo for, well, nothing really. Luckily the referee made up for this blunder by awarding his side a non-existent penalty later on.