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Málaga’s Mauling and Barça’s ‘mishap’ in Mestalla

Hay Liga and Hay Caramba! The Spanish title race is bursting with fruity excitement once again after an imperious Real Madrid thrashed sorry Málaga on Thursday night and Barcelona slipped up for the second time in three league matches to drop points against Valencia and leave the gap at the top of the table standing at a paltry three.

For those already confused and checking their boilers for carbon monoxide leaks, this is the thrilling situation in la Liga according to FridayâÂÂs Marca whose âÂÂother league tableâ shows Barcelona with four points less than the actual table, after the paper arbitrarily decided that Jordi AlbaâÂÂs goal for Valencia on Wednesday was incorrectly ruled off-side and one of the strikes for Barça against Athletic Bilbao two rounds ago was incorrectly ruled onside - photoshop-sneakiness or not.

This alternate reading of history suggests Barça have picked up two draws in encounters where that dastardly Catalan clan running la Liga are claiming were won by Hobblinâ PepâÂÂs Dream Boys.

However, seeing as Marca are not yet running the show in the Spanish Primera - although it is only a matter of time - Barcelona are taking a short breather before kicking off Round 27 of la Liga with the visit of Zaragoza still holding a seven point lead over Real Madrid despite the latter's 7-0 midweek mauling of a Malaga side that visiting coach Manuel Pellegrini admitted âÂÂdidnâÂÂt come to Madrid with the aim of winning three points.âÂÂ

LLL must admit that it was expecting the Málaga coach to be slaughtered in FridayâÂÂs edition of Marca, continuing the scandalously vile and worryingly personal campaign against the former Madrid manager ran by the paperâÂÂs director, Eduardo Inda.

However, word on the grapevine in the Spanish capital is that MarcaâÂÂs writers - mostly a fine, upstanding lot - were appalled by ThursdayâÂÂs edition which tore Pellegrini to pieces, and were distancing themselves from the attacks which reportedly came straight from MarcaâÂÂs big boss.

This perhaps explains the praise for Pellegrini's conduct which was splashed across Friday's edition, with the paperâÂÂs back pages claiming that âÂÂPellegrini gave a lesson in gentlemanly conduct,â by offering to shake José MourinhoâÂÂs hand before the game kicked-off and the footballing massacre began.

The Madrid manager, on the other hand, continued his ranting guff and is following the very Spanish custom of being quite rude with the excuse of âÂÂhey, IâÂÂm only being honest.â Many a time LLL has been told that it looks like crap, smells funny or is ever so slightly slow by Spanish friends and colleagues. A look of hurt and distress is then met with the shrug and claim of âÂÂat least IâÂÂm not lying.âÂÂ

After ThursdayâÂÂs game, Mourinho responded to probes on the previous dayâÂÂs comments that said he would never manage Málaga because he is too much of  a Bertie Big B**locks by claiming that he was only telling the truth and isnâÂÂt being a hypocrite - his definition of âÂÂhypocriteâ being those who manage to shut their gobs at appropriate moments or simply be diplomatic when the occasion requires.

âÂÂIf you ask the best coaches and players in the world if they would sign for Málaga, the majority would say âÂÂwhy not? But perhaps in the future?âÂÂâ countered Mourinho after the game.

The seven goal hammering for Málaga leaves the struggling side in the relegation zone along with Almería - who could only draw 1-1 against ten men Racing Santander, and Sporting - who are in trouble once again after an away defeat to Sevilla on Tuesday.

Mallorca are the big alternative winners of the midweek round in LLLâÂÂs humble opinion, with a tremendous 2-1 away victory at Espanyol. Michael LaudrupâÂÂs brave battlers will be looking to inch ever closer to the survival mark with a home match against Valencia who could have Champions League matters on their minds on Saturday night.

Atlético - who were rotten, lifeless and as goggle-eyed as a dead haddock against Getafe on Wednesday night, but still managed to grab a late draw with perhaps their only chance of the game - are playing host to Villarreal in the Vicente Calderón. Once again, people will be aâÂÂwatchin' to see if there are further signs of the supposed âÂÂdonâÂÂt give the ball to Forlánâ policy in the dressing room - a strategy poo-pooed by Atleti centre-back, Diego Godín.

âÂÂI donâÂÂt believe and I donâÂÂt want to believe that there are team-mates who do not pass to him,â claimed the Rojiblanco stopper.

Hércules lost away from home once again - and failed to score once again too - with their defeat to Villarreal and are hosting bottom-of-the-table Almería on Sunday. Málaga only have three days to recover from their Bernabeu battering before facing Osasuna in a battle between 18th and 16th.

The southern sideâÂÂs opponents featured in perhaps the most predictable scoreline of the round on Wednesday night with a goalless draw against Deportivo - no great surprise considering the zany shooting abilities of both teams.

Levante are still LLLâÂÂs big heroes after a brilliant away point at Real Sociedad that sees them inching their way up the table. And to thank the fans for backing the team in their comeback campaign, the players have recorded a song for them (LLL managed just one minute listening to it before screaming - a pretty good performance).

Barcelona will be fairly confident of beating Zaragoza at the Camp Nou on Saturday will be looking to rest a few players along the way, ahead of ArsenalâÂÂs visit in the Champions. This is not a sensation that Real Madrid will be enjoying as they head to Santander to take on a resurgent Racing with Cristiano Ronaldo a big doubt ahead of the clash with a leg knack.

Dropped points in el Sardinero would make live even harder for José MourinhoâÂÂs men in the league table - whether it be the real one or the table from MarcaâÂÂs alternate dimension.

Round 27 Predictions
Mallorca v Valencia - Draw
Barcelona v Zaragoza - Home win
Atlético Madrid v Villarreal - Away win
Sporting v Getafe - Home win
Hércules v Almería - Home win
Málaga v Osasuna - Home win
Levante v Espanyol - Home win
Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla - Draw
Racing  v Real Madrid - Draw
Deportivo v Real Sociedad - Draw