Top two take their feet off the gas, as Deportivo begin fightback
Beautiful symmetry from Messi, who last failed to score a goal in la Liga on 3rd November against Celta Vigo, 19 rounds ago. The Argentinean has now stuck away at least one effort in every game since, in a 29 goal run. LLL is not that impressed though. Nobody likes a show-off.
Iker Casillas may be back in shape again after suffering a crocked hand, but the Real Madrid captain isnÃ¢ÂÂt going to shift his understudy. So says a jubilant JosÃÂ© Mourinho, who is probably delighted to be plonking his arch nemesis back on the bench. Ã¢ÂÂPlaying like this, itÃ¢ÂÂs difficult that he wonÃ¢ÂÂt be in goal,Ã¢ÂÂ said the Madrid manager on the winter window signing ahead of the upcoming games.
MÃÂ¡lagaÃ¢ÂÂs Chilean midfielder had quite the afternoon. Two assists and a cracking long distance strike were delivered by a player who is getting to grips with life at MÃÂ¡laga, having joined on loan until the end of the season. Ã¢ÂÂOn a personal level, IÃ¢ÂÂm very happy, as there have been some tough moments this year, so this was very important for me.Ã¢ÂÂ The result was the perfect warm-up for this weekÃ¢ÂÂs visit of Borussia Dortmund.
Betis & Getafe
La Liga Loca is plonking both teams in the Good Day section after a goalless draw, for contributions to an entertaining, chance-stuffed goalless game, despite playing at the ludicrous time of 10pm on a Monday night.
A 1-0 home win against Sevilla may sounds like it was bit of a gritty affair, but SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs late night nosh-up in Valencia was good fun. To be fair to Sevilla, a draw would probably have been a more equitable result, but itÃ¢ÂÂs tough do-dos as Levante pick up their first win in seven matches to move into a much comfier position of 40 league points. Ã¢ÂÂAnother step to reach safety as soon as possible,Ã¢ÂÂ was the opinion of Levante boss, Juan Ignacio MartÃÂnez.
Espanyol & Real Sociedad
Both sides served up a cracking match in Cornella, where Real Sociedad came back from behind twice in a 2-2 draw. La Real are now unbeaten in 19 games, while Espanyol moved further away from the relegation zone. Ã¢ÂÂWhen I took over the team on 1st December, I would have chopped off my finger if someone could have said that weÃ¢ÂÂd be 12 points away from the danger zone at this stage of the season,Ã¢ÂÂ said a chuffed Javier Aguirre after the match.
A headed effort from a corner (what else with Athletic Bilbao?) saw the forward score the winner in a 1-0 victory over Granada - the striker's first goal in nine league games. The strike earned three points for the Basque side, who seem genuinely spooked by the idea they could get dragged into the relegation battle if they donÃ¢ÂÂt get a move on up the table.
OsasunaÃ¢ÂÂs 3-1 away win at Valladolid saw two teams behaving a little out sorts after the international break. Valladolid donÃ¢ÂÂt tend to concede three at home - only the current top three have managed to do inflict that on them this season - and Osasuna donÃ¢ÂÂt tend to score three away from home. The scorer of two of those three Osasuna goals, Kike Sola, doesnÃ¢ÂÂt tend to net too often either, with a Liga scoring rate of one-in-four since making his debut for the first team in 2007.
A very sprightly performance from the Zaragoza attacker, as he made his first start of the season. He hassled the ankles off a befuddled Luka Modric in the first half and popped in ZaragozaÃ¢ÂÂs opener, too. The home side werenÃ¢ÂÂt able to keep up the pace in the second 45 minutes - the introduction of some big guns like Mesut ÃÂzil made the difference for Madrid - but the confidence boost to a flagging team who have yet to win in 2013 will be as handy as an unexpected point.
The Celta midfielder scored the GalicianÃ¢ÂÂs opener and revealed to the world a rarely seen barnet. Shaved at the sides, fairly long Mohican on top, combined with a receding hairline, it certainly caught the eye as much as the scoreline, which saw Celta take advantage of a somnambulant BarÃÂ§a on Saturday evening in a 2-2 draw. Ã¢ÂÂWhat I liked the most is that we respected BarÃÂ§a without fearing them,Ã¢ÂÂ Celta boss Abel Resino growled - which is what he does most of the time.
LLL is still not convinced about the sideÃ¢ÂÂs survival chances, with the Galicians on 23 points with nine to play, but back-to-back wins against Celta Vigo and the 3-2 win at Mallorca on Sunday canÃ¢ÂÂt have done any harm.
Barcelona & Real Madrid
Well, both sides could at least try to pretend thereÃ¢ÂÂs a title race going on. BarÃÂ§a dropped two points at Celta Vigo, so Real Madrid responded by dropping a pair at Zaragoza. Ã¢ÂÂOur objective in the league is to finish second and obviously win every game,Ã¢ÂÂ announced JosÃÂ© Mourinho in regards to MadridÃ¢ÂÂs plan for the next couple of months, which entails doing slightly better than AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid, apparently.
Alex Song, MartÃÂn Montoya, Marc Batra and co took to the field for Barcelona - with Leo Messi, of course - and Jordi Roura managed to keep a straight face promising that Ã¢ÂÂthe match was very important for us today,Ã¢ÂÂ ahead of TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs visit to France to take on PSG.
Ã¢ÂÂThe worst part about the game was that those who had the most to demonstrate, offered the least,Ã¢ÂÂ wrote Joan Vehils in Sport, pointing a finger at Thiago and Alexis, Ã¢ÂÂVilanova has a lot of work to do with this footballer,Ã¢ÂÂ was the verdict on the former.
AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid & Valencia
A tad arbitrary perhaps, and maybe driven by the fun of sticking all of SpainÃ¢ÂÂs biggest teams into the Bad Day section. Sure, a 1-1 draw between the two sides at a very rainy Vicente CalderÃÂ³n may have been a decent result for the duo in isolation, but the outcome saw AtlÃÂ©tico missing the chance move back into second place above Real Madrid, while Valencia were unable to take advantage of dropped points for Real Sociedad in fourth losing ground on MÃÂ¡laga for good measure.
Two set-piece sleepy-times from the Rayo back line pretty much cost the Madrid side the points in a 3-1 loss at home to MÃÂ¡laga. Ã¢ÂÂThey finished us off with the mistakes we made,Ã¢ÂÂ fumed Rayo boss, Paco JÃÂ©mez.
Another away day, another defeat for Sevilla, who have just the single victory on the road. That one win, four draws and 10 defeats is the campaignÃ¢ÂÂs sorry return in 15 matches. The latest failure away from the SÃÂ¡nchez PizjuÃÂ¡n was at Levante in a 1-0 loss. Ã¢ÂÂWe need to find a way not to repeat these defeats,Ã¢ÂÂ noted Unai Emery, in a lament that sounded very familiar to that of the Sevilla managerÃ¢ÂÂs predecessor, MÃÂchel.
The 1-0 defeat to Athletic sees Granada without a win in six under Lucas Alcaraz, who had made such a strong start at the club. However they are now without a goal from open play in three matches.
If la LigaÃ¢ÂÂs participants are going to talk about Ã¢ÂÂfinalsÃ¢ÂÂ all the time, then LLL might as well join in. Mallorca lost one on Sunday at home to Deportivo, leaving the Balearic club in 19th and Gregorio Manzano with an an awful lot of motivating exercises to get through before heading to the Camp Nou for his sideÃ¢ÂÂs next match. Ã¢ÂÂWe wanted to give a great time to the crowd, who were fantastic,Ã¢ÂÂ was the lament from the Mallorca boss.