La Review: Terrific Trio flop, but Barcelona keep it up

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Málaga 1-2 Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona 3-1 Celta de Vigo, Real Madrid 4-0 Real Zaragoza, Valencia 2-0 Atlético Madrid Sun 4 Nov Real Sociedad 0-1 Espanyol, Deportivo La Coruña 1-0 Mallorca, Osasuna 0-1 Real Valladolid, Granada 1-2 Athletic Club, Sevilla 0-0 Levante Mon 5 Nov Getafe v Real Betis 21.30


Tito Vilanova
The Barça boss has led his team to the best domestic start in the Catalan club’s history. Mad as bats, really, as this has been achieved without most of the team’s first-choice defence being present and correct – even when they are playing – and by living life a little on the edge.

This theme was encapsulated in a chaotic first half against Celta Vigo: both teams looked like they could score with every chance they had. Barça calmed things down a little in the second half and came away with a 3-1 win, a victory that helped along the way on the hour mark by an incredibly offside goal from Jordi Alba to finish off the plucky visitors for good.

Real Madrid
Seated at the Bernabeu on Saturday, LLL could have sworn that the crowd hushed and settled themselves into stupefied silence before the start of the second half of Saturday’s win at Zaragoza, like a well-behaved theatre audience. “Four goals, three points and little excitement,” was Marca’s pretty accurate assessment of the clash which, like the Celta game a fortnight ago, won’t live long in the memory. José Mourinho rather neatly summed up how his team are playing at the moment: “The team are doing ok, could be better.”

Probably not everyone’s cup of tea to watch – with their tactics of ceding possession, parking a fleet of ageing buses at the back, and whacking hopeful balls up to Obafemi Martins – but it’s very effective approach indeed for the Valencia-based side. Levante had just 30% of the possession, two corners and one shot on target during Sunday’s goalless encounter at Sevilla. But the performance – and some wobbly finishing up front for the opposition – gave Levante one point and sees the team holding ground in the European places and four league games unbeaten.

Patrick Ebert
The German's beautifully-placed chip successfully completed a breakaway attack at Osasuna, giving Valladolid victory and lifting them to eighth place having quietly gone about a very successful no-alarms-and-no-surprises start to the season. “A draw would have been fair, but we scored on one counter-attack. In football there’s no justice,” said an empathetic Valladolid boss Miroslav Djukic.

Mauricio Pellegrino
It’s fair to say that Valencia really, really, really needed the 2-0 win over Atlético. Anything else could have seen handkerchief-waving hell in Mestalla stands stuffed with supporters calling for the manager’s head. However, the victory was a close-run thing after a gloriously dirty match containing more stamps than a post office; Valencia only sealed the deal in the final seconds of the encounter with Nelson Valdez scoring the second goal of the night, with the first being an absolute whopper from Roberto Soldado.

Rayo’s brace-bagger in the eyebrow-raising 2-1 victory at Málaga has been head and shoulders above everyone else in the Vallecan side this season. “We need to remain a very humble team that try to play good football when we can,” explained Rayo boss Paco Jémez, who watched the match suspended in the stands. And not in the ‘hanging on strings’ sense, either.

Ariz Aduriz
With Fernando Llorente still frozen out of the Athletic Bilbao starting line-up by the barking mad Marcelo Bielsa, it’s been up to Aduriz to carry the goalscoring can – and it’s something that he’s been achieving rather well. The Basque forward scored his third brace in la Liga this season with a double at Granada, to make it a very impressive eight goals in 10 rounds.

The 1-0 win over Mallorca sounds a small result, but it’s a big win for Deportivo who had failed to pick up three points since the first round of the season.

A side beginning to dig their way out of trouble, if still stuck in the relegation zone, despite a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad. The victory was Espanyol’s second win of the season – and perhaps more importantly, considering the strike-force isn’t working so well, made it two consecutive clean sheets in la Liga.


Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao
Not a single goal from this trio this weekend. Overrated. All of them.

Atlético Madrid
It’s taken until the beginning of November for Atlético Madrid to end up in the ‘bad day’ section of the blog, which is a minor miracle in itself. So many runs ended in the 2-0 defeat in Mestalla: 13 victories in a row in all competitions, 23 games unbeaten, eight straight wins in la Liga. But the main point to make is that despite this setback, this new, solid version of Atlético is likely to bounce back very quickly. Especially since the next league encounter is the visit of bottom-of-the-table Osasuna.

A bit of an upset to say the least for Málaga, losing 2-1 at home to Rayo Vallecano, who are not that good really. The big question is whether this was just a bad day at the office for the southern side, or if it has something to do with the owners breaking a promise during the week on when delayed payments would be paid to the players. Manuel Pellegrini suggests that may possibly be the case. “I’m not looking for excuses, but it was a bit of a chaotic week in every aspect and this could be seen out on the pitch,” said the Málaga boss after the team’s second league defeat of the season.

A horrible run for Sevilla continues with a goalless draw at home to Levante – the most recent part of a run that sees Míchel’s men having won just the single game from five. No progress has been made at all this season by Sevilla, a team who have the same number of points at the same stage as the past campaign, something that the home fans have noted. “The atmosphere that exists in the Sánchez Pizjuán is not comfortable for the players,” was the recognition from Míchel after boos from the stands where just 26,000 came out to see the game.

A season that started so brightly for Mallorca has now gone horribly wrong for the Balearic team, with Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Deportivo being the side’s fifth straight loss. “We need to change this run as soon as possible,” said a concerned Joaquín Caparrós. “Although it’s difficult, we’ll try against Barcelona,” said the Mallorca boss on his team’s next league game and sixth consecutive defeat.

Philippe Montanier
A home defeat to Espanyol made it four games without a win and gave sections of la Real’s home support the hump, it would appear, with calls for the firing of the French boss.

Three defeats in a row in la Liga, the latest being a home setback against Athletic Bilbao, sends Granada into the bottom three. LLL isn't sure that the Andalusian side are ever going to get out of it.

Bof! A knockout counter-attack goal from Valladolid saw three points lost for Osasuna when at least one was deserved from the game. Osasuna’s problems still lie with goalscoring. Eight have been knocked up in 10 games, but four of those arrived in one match, the Pamplona side’s only win of the season so far.