There were a few familiar storylines rolled out this weekend in another sprightly edition of La Liga.
Barcelona and Atlético Madrid continued to make easy-peasy mincemeat of their opponents, while Coach Zizou contemplates whether being Real Madrid manager is actually worth the enormous hassle and eventual disappointment/firing. And Gary Neville is back in hot water as his internship in Mestalla hits troubled times once again.
Malaga 0-1 Sporting Gijon
Barcelona 6-0 Getafe
Celta Vigo 1-0 Real Sociedad
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Deportivo
Rayo Vallecano 1-1 Eibar
Levante 1-0 Valencia
Sevilla 4-2 Villarreal
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Real Betis
Las Palmas 1-2 Real Madrid
Zizou struggles to get football juices flowing
Zinedine Zidane was all with the enigmatic about his future ahead of the Las Palmas clash on Sunday, for no more sinister a reason than the French boss realising that managing Real Madrid wasn’t exactly a bag of fun and probably not great for one’s health.
When Las Palmas battled back in the Canary Islands to tie the scores at 1-1 with just three minutes remaining, Zizou was already sensing that the week ahead was going to suck in the suckiest possible way until the following clash against a Sevilla side that hadn’t won away all season.
Instead, the man to vaguely balance the midfield, Casemiro, came up trumps with a set-piece winner to repair the damage inflicted by the laziest of passes from Mateo Kovacic. “If we don’t play better then we are not going anywhere,” said a subdued Zizou, with thoughts mirrored by Keylor Navas who continues to be the only consistently outstanding performer for Madrid this season. “We are not going to win titles if we play with this intensity,” said the Costa Rican stopper.
Madrid certainly won’t win their next away trip, considering it's at the Camp Nou.
Messi continues Ronaldo mess-up mind games against Getafe
Luis Enrique may have got the knack of this whole managing lark, with a 6-0 win over Getafe in second gear, but the Barça manager is still mastering the basics of football journalism. The Spanish boss, whose team are next in line to give Arsene Wenger yet another kick in the goolies, was asked why Luis Suárez had started a match when pretty much anyone called up from the crowd could have given Getafe a decent game.
“It’s weird, being Barça boss,” Enrique sighed. “If you change something you are asked why you did it. When you don’t, then they ask why you didn’t.” There’s a whole semester on that technique in journo school.
Also falling into the world of weirdness is Leo Messi’s continuing penalty issues, although La Liga Loca has a feeling in its waters that the Argentine is now just missing them as some sort of dressing room in-joke. Or to mess with Cristiano Ronaldo’s head in some kind of manner that mere mortals couldn’t possibly understand.
50% - Leo Messi (4 out of 8), Neymar (4 out of 8) and Suárez (2 out of 4) have missed 50% of penalties they have taken. MSN
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 12, 2016
Atlético hitting form in season home straight
Like Ray and Dave Davies being steam-cleaned by the greatest living Argentine, Diego Simeone has ironed out the kinks in his Atlético Madrid side. They’re still as stingy as ever at the back, but now popping in the goals up front with a 3-0 victory over Deportivo.
The Rojiblancos have whacked in nine over their last three matches, a good omen ahead of a Champions League clash with PSV on Tuesday with the tie frozen at 0-0.
Happy homer half of Sevilla turns up as Athletic power on
Now, if Sevilla played the other 50% of their fixtures in the same way that they battled to a fun 4-2 win over Villarreal on Sunday, then Unai Emery might well be sitting pretty at the top of the table.
Victory in the Sánchez Pizjuán was their 16th win in a row at home in all competitions, an admirable statistic that contrasts nicely with Sevilla failing to win away all season in both Europe and La Liga.
The weekend’s victory gave Sevilla a glint of hope of catching up with Villarreal, the team currently in fifth with a five-point cushion. A team that might be able to push on is Athletic Bilbao, however, the Basque outfit having disposed of Betis to win their fifth game in a row in March thanks in part to a remarkably expansive and talented squad that continues to allow the team to be more than the sum of its parts.
Gary Neville back on walk of shame after loss to Levante
Losing to city rivals Levante is bad enough, but losing to a Levante side that was bottom of the table is pretty much inexcusable for any Valencia manager, never mind one that has just picked up the three La Liga wins from 15 since taking over. But that’s the situation Gary Neville finds himself in.
Los Che’s next two matches are in Mestalla and absolute, stone-wall must-wins. Athletic Bilbao are in town first for a Europa League fixture where the Basques hold a 1-0 advantage, and then it’s Celta Vigo in La Liga. After that, Neville will be jumping ship to continue his coaching duties with England.
While the ex-Manchester United man has pointed out that looking after just eight players during the break is not a great ask for his coaching team, the departure will look like a captain abandoning his post in the middle of a bout of choppy waters.
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