Monday's Good Day, Bad Day - Round 34
Bless their cotton socks, Real Madrid are starting to play like proper grown-up champions. That said, they'll have to wait a while for the actual accolade Ã¢ÂÂ possibly, if Osasuna have any say in the matter at the Reyno de Navarra next weekend, until the visit of Barcelona on Wednesday May 7.
On a balmy Sunday evening in the Bernabeu, Iker was ridiculously good, whilst Saviola's inclusion in the starting 11 raised eyebrows. The brows descended again with the Argentinian's perky performance and opening strike making Arjen Robben's reported strop on Saturday, upon hearing of his dropping, look more than a little silly.
The unwritten rule in Spain, that Thou Shalt Not Write Bad Things Of Raul, continues with Marca's summary of his performance being 'good', when even Bernd Schuster admitted that his No.7 was not exactly firing on all cylinders.
The UN should be sending in a team of ET-style space-suited scientists to La CoruÃÂ±a forthwith, to find out what on earth had been put into the city's water supply. Over the past four months, Depor have turned from a relegation-threatened team you'd rather shove cocktail sticks up your toenails than watch, into swashbuckling superstars.
Depor's comprehensive Mosley-style spanking of Barcelona was their fifth win in a row and they continue to be the best side of the second round. A local journo reveals that Miguel Angel Lotina is still the same sour-faced old misery-guts everyone knows and loves, so something else must be going on in Galicia.
"It's an impressive run and we're very happy", was all the Deportivo depressive would let loose on the matter.
An odd choice considering they haven't won a league match since mid-March and are still two or three points from safety, but this was a game which could easily have been lost by the home side. It wasn't. And if it hadn't been for a pesky penalty save by Atletico keeper Leo Franco from the completely luckless Ruben de la Red it could have been a handsome win. "We're back to seeing the real Getafe," smiled Michael Laudrup. Let's hope so.
Ruben de la Red looks to the skies, all agonised, like
La Liga Loca is firing one of its so-called scandal-seeking insiders. The one who claimed that Albeda, Angulo and CaÃÂ±izares would not be darkening the Mestalla doorstep again this season, despite the kicking out of Koeman. It was a tip that held true for a good three days until Sunday evening, when Santi ran out against Osasuna, with Angulo trotting onto the pitch in the closing stages.
Hard to know whether this was a victory earned due to the return of the 4-4-2 and JoaquÃÂn, or whether it was because Osasuna had their keeper sent off in a ridiculous decision. "The win does not resolve all our problems," admitted Voro. Next weekend's night out at the Camp Nou should reveal more.
We have a sneaky suspicion that everything is gonna be all right for Recreativo this season. "Well, that's them screwed," some might say. The Huelvans should be keeping their Primera place simply because they are one of the more prolific sides in the bottom third and will be looking forward to their final game against Valladolid as the one that can keep them up.
A 90th-minute scorcher from Sesma means another late, late goal for Valladolid, which could be rather crucial when it comes to the end-of-season crunch.
Normally, the Yellow Submarine reacts to pressure in the same way that women react to wasps. But this time round, the Villarreal stiff upper lip held firm with a 1-0 win at Betis thanks to a stonker from Marcos Senna.
Rather than trying to poop Real Madrid's title party, Manuel Pellegrini's men are looking to hang onto second place, thus avoiding the whole messy process of Champions League pre-qualifiation in summer - something Barcelona may well have to endure, given that the gap between the two sides has grown to four.
Frank Rijkaard's apathy-filled face peering out from the bench said it all. La Liga Loca fancies them to go through in Manchester on Tuesday, but it has no evidence to support this theory aside from the tealeaves in its morning Earl Grey.
The Brazilian's goals appear to have dried up in parallel with the form of his team-mates. Whether it's down to fatigue, as Manolo JimÃÂ©nez claims, or the distraction of not knowing where he will be playing next season, his drought has now extended to just one goal in the last six games.
"It's not up to me," shrugged Fabiano leaving the pitch after a goalless draw in Murcia where the nearest both he and his side came to a goal was when the striker hit the post.
Sevilla's Luis Fabiano: the man who fell to earth
Another point for los Pericos! Are happy days here again at the Montjuic? Let's find out with Paul from Barcelona, who saw the whole fun-filled affair against Zaragoza:
"Well, more of the same, folks. Zaragoza actually brought about two to three thousand fans, buoyed by cheap tickets and travel and a 'Now more than ever' banner. (Not in English, of course.) A nondescript first half left the teams level and me wishing I'd stayed on the beach. Both teams were making as much headway as my mate, whom I'd left chatting up some thirtysomething ex-model. Yes, you guessed it, nobody was scoring.
"Second half, Espanyol came out guns blazing and dominated the next 20 minutes. Then the big moment. Either it was goal of the season or fluke of the decade (clue: it was Reira) a first time cross-shot from about 25 yards out, but from nearly the touchline, which looped over Cesar for 1-0. Luis Garcia then missed a sitter to make it two.
"Zaragoza could have had a penalty,but then got one for what can only be described as deliberate use of the face. While in the wall, Rufete got hit in the mush with the ball but had his hands up and the ref gave a penalty, which the orange-booted - yes, ORANGE-booted - Oliveira scored.
"So, 1-1. No good for either team."
"Football would be great for AtlÃÂ©tico if it weren't for the matches", sighed Marca as it watched another load of old rubbish by the rojiblancos, this time against Getafe. It was an opinion shared by many at the encounter at the Coliseum.
Despite winning just once in five attempts, AtlÃÂ©tico are still in the Champions Leauge places, with only El Pais offering an explanation why - "they have a pact with the devil," explained the paper.
Although La Liga Loca hopes it is wrong - not in itself unusual - it has a sneaky feeling that it is Osasuna who will be sitting in the Segunda next season. Everything seems to be going against the Pamplonans this year, with the sending-off of Ricardo this weekend, being the tip of the footballing iceberg.
"The referees cannot be happy...they have to be fair," scowled coach Cuco Ziganda after Sunday's Mestalla mauling. "I only ask for fairness and seriousness from them."
A fond farewell for a club whom some of us had a lot of time for, after several months of plucky performances - all produced without pay.