Monday's Good Day, Bad Day - Week 3
See, it was all about the sweaters. Rather than lounging around on the touchline dressed like a posh boy (or pijo, as the tribe is known in Spain) on a Sunday stroll through MadridÃ¢ÂÂs barrio Salamanca, Pep opted for a Marks and Sparks suit in last weekÃ¢ÂÂs clashes against Sporting, and, er Sporting.
Pep rocks the suit look
It was also about Lady Luck finally giving into BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs charms and offering up a knee-trembler. La Liga Loca predicted a paddling for someone, sometime soon, and it happened in El MolinÃÂ³n. AndrÃÂ©s Iniesta and Leo Messi opted for passing rather than randomly blasting balls into the crowd, and they were both boosted by the sending off of Sporting midfielder Carmelo.
"We are on the right pathÃ¢ÂÂ, says Pep, who seems to be morphing into a late version of Freddie Mercury. Ã¢ÂÂBut sometimes weÃ¢ÂÂll win and sometimes weÃ¢ÂÂll loseÃ¢ÂÂ. Not so, say Sport, who boast that BarÃÂ§a are Ã¢ÂÂbetter than everÃ¢ÂÂ.
A very different performance to that of Barcelona, but very much following the pattern of the past two years. La Liga Loca thought it was a fairly decent showing away from home, but the blogÃ¢ÂÂs snooty culÃÂ© companion in the bar for SundayÃ¢ÂÂs win against Racing Santander spent the entire match sighing and tutting like a six-year-old in an art gallery. "Dull", "boring", "ugly" and "lucky" were just some of the more polite words used during the 2-0 victory. "Effective" was a key one he missed out.
Real Madrid were far from pretty at El Sardinero in a match that could have gone the way of Deportivo in round one, but Schuster was right to praise the teamÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂattitude, duty and work ethic on the pitchÃ¢ÂÂ. One other thing: on a fuzzy TV screen, a line-up containing Ramos, HiguaÃÂn, De la Red and Van Nistelrooy is a tad confusing. At least Gago wasnÃ¢ÂÂt playing.
The boys in blue: uniform
AlmerÃÂa could have been in a spot of bother this season, with Unai Emery jumping ship to Mestalla. But with seven points from nine and nestled as snug as a bug in a rug behind Valencia, the early signs are that they are going to be just fine. This is thanks, in part, to Negredo who has now scored three from three Ã¢ÂÂ and there are some beauties amongst them.
Another win and another week in charge for Unai Emery, who must soon be coming up on the longest-serving manager in Mestalla record. It was another goal from Juan Mata Ã¢ÂÂ like Negredo, a player who got away from the Real Madrid cantera Ã¢ÂÂ and the striker-winger looks like being one of this seasonÃ¢ÂÂs breakthrough footballers after impressing in patches last year.
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the Athletic we all know and love! Thuggish, ugly and with more hoofs than Hickstead. Marca, however, are a little more polite than La Liga Loca and hail the return of Ã¢ÂÂcrosses, defensive solidity and pressureÃ¢ÂÂ. Describing his Athletic side, JoaquÃÂn CaparrÃÂ³s said Ã¢ÂÂif we do well then we can beat anybody,Ã¢ÂÂ which is blatantly not true. But the star of Herbie Ã¢ÂÂ Fully Loaded also adds that Ã¢ÂÂif we donÃ¢ÂÂt impose ourselves then another AlmerÃÂa can happenÃ¢ÂÂ.
Capparos struggles with Herbie reference
La Liga Loca has waxed lyrically elsewhere over KunÃ¢ÂÂs current form, but the blog must also a give a very big pat Ã¢ÂÂ and a big one is needed if he is to notice it Ã¢ÂÂ to Maniche. Yet again, he was playing as if kebabs were not the only thing he was hungry for.
A sneaky win at Numancia puts a happy lid on a good week of work for the Yellow Submarine after stopping Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The Seville derby was oddly overlooked in La SextaÃ¢ÂÂs entertaining campaign to show every game in La Liga that the TV channel probably doesnÃ¢ÂÂt have the rights for. Marca write that Betis Ã¢ÂÂmissed an opportunity of humiliating SevillaÃ¢ÂÂ in a first half where there were eight or so clear chances on goal. Unfortunately the Beticos did not have Edu and Sobis up front, but Pavone and the "WasnÃ¢ÂÂt he good, like, a really long time ago?" JosÃÂ© Mari. It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a great day for sections of the home support, either, who have been reported by the referee for brandishing Nazi flags and Franco-era banners.
Not a great couple of days for poor old Guti. On Friday, the midfielder narrowly avoided a possible pounding by an irate ex-boxer who broke into the training ground Ã¢ÂÂ sadly, one of the security guards took the brunt of a beating. (La Liga Loca would like to clarify that it uses the word 'sadly' to describe what happened to the security guard, and not to comment that it was sad that Guti missed out on a shoeing.) And on Sunday, the midfielder was carried off against Racing, with an as yet unknown amount of time to come on the sidelines.
Ã¢ÂÂThe worst match weÃ¢ÂÂve played since IÃ¢ÂÂve been hereÃ¢ÂÂ, grumbled Valladolid manager JosÃÂ© Luis Mendilibar, simultaneously overlooking the 7-0 thumping by Real Madrid, last season, and probably insulting Athletic Bilbao, the winners of SundayÃ¢ÂÂs grudge match.
Sporting de GijÃÂ³n
A fine start to the season, with three defeats and 12 goals conceded. The one bright spark in their somewhat doomy and gloomy existence is that they have scored five. And thatÃ¢ÂÂs more than Betis, Recreativo, Malaga, Mallorca and Racing Santander combined.
Betis, Malaga, Mallorca
A fairly routine, not especially dirty match was turned into a "footballing farce", say AS, with the referee waving 10 yellows and two reds at a bunch of increasingly bemused players.
Refereeing conspiracies! Accusations of cheating opposition! Could it be that rubbing shoulders with Barcelona fans every day is starting to take its toll on Paul the Perico? LetÃ¢ÂÂs find out:
Ã¢ÂÂGetafe started the better and from the first minute their new signing Ã¢ÂÂArbitroÃ¢ÂÂ was running the game for them. A very dull first half (if not according to AS) came to an end with Getafe thinking maybe they should be leading and Roman and Moises thanking the gods they hadn't got broken legs. I'd just finished reading my exciting match programme and enjoying the news that Espanyol Ladies had beaten BarÃÂ§a, yet again, when Getafe got a penalty Ã¢ÂÂ thanks to a dive from the canary-yellow booted Tweety-Pie enthusiast GuerrÃÂ³n.
"Manu scored. This woke up Espanyol and stunned the crowd into silence. Espanyol were using the wings and Coro's pace were seriously testing the ref's boys. A Luis Garcia free kick was bundled in by Sergio Sanchez and nobody celebrated because the ref was bound to disallow it Ã¢ÂÂ but in a strange moment of clarity it was allowed to stand.
"The game finished in a draw which on reflection was a fair result Ã¢ÂÂ but when is football in Spain fair? The ref was awful. So one-sided. Some of Getafe's tackling bordered on dangerous. The ref just gave them free rein. They play decent football and don't need these tactics.
"Espanyol's next four matches are against the four of the top five from last season. Thank you, computer. BarÃÂ§a are away at the Rose and Crown, Magaluf. Mmmmmm.
"Stray cat count: four Ã¢ÂÂ two adults, two kittens.
-- Paul, Barcelona."
You can catch Tim Stannard punditing on this week's Extra-Time on Real Madrid TV - channel 446, Sky Digital. 22.05 UK time and repeated throughout the week.