FFT's man in Madrid, Tim Stannard, names the winners and losers of the weekend's La Liga action...
Leo Messi & David Villa
ItÃ¢ÂÂs apparently happy families again at the Camp Nou, after BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs striking pair were all with the hugs and cuddles after three goals between the feuding forwards and assists aplenty in the 3-1 win against visiting Rayo Vallecano. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂve heard a lot of things, that thereÃ¢ÂÂs conflict (between the two), and itÃ¢ÂÂs absurd,Ã¢ÂÂ charged Jordi Roura, who may have had his last experience on the BarÃÂ§a bench with Tito Vilanova possibly about to return. Ã¢ÂÂI hope itÃ¢ÂÂs my last game. It means Tito will be back,Ã¢ÂÂ said a probably very relieved Roura.
If MadridÃ¢ÂÂs matches continue to be weird, Twin Peaks-style abstract affairs from now until the end of the season, then LLL may still keep paying attention, despite the title race being over. Real Madrid went behind twice to visitors Mallorca, once again showing a weakness when it comes to defending set-pieces, before coming away from the match with a 5-2 victory.
The Croatian seems to be getting the hang of this la Liga business, and the former Spurs midfielder is starting to convince some of the doubters in the Spanish capital that the former he wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a total rip-off with a price tag of around Ã¢ÂÂ¬35m.
Not a spectacular performance from AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid, but the 2-0 win at Osasuna was still an admirable result for the Rojiblancos, who owed the victory to a brace from Diego Costa. Ã¢ÂÂI hope he can keep on getting better,Ã¢ÂÂ said Diego Simeone after the match, Ã¢ÂÂhe can improve a lot.Ã¢ÂÂ
La Liga Loca is now ready to declare that Champions League qualification is officially on for Real Sociedad. Oh yes. The Basque sideÃ¢ÂÂs 4-1 demolition of visiting Valladolid, inspired by their slightly nutty French winger, sees the team with just the single defeat from 18, and in fourth spot with a two point cushion over Valencia. Ã¢ÂÂThe fans dream but we are going forward with humility,Ã¢ÂÂ said la Real coach, Philipe Montanier, keeping things on the down-low (technically that means Ã¢ÂÂsecretÃ¢ÂÂ but LLL likes the expression, anyway).
A 3-0 win over Betis was perhaps a little flattering for Valencia, given their opponents were down to ten men after 14 minutes. A penalty from the foul committed on Roberto Soldado by Antonio Amaya which provoked the sending off, as well as a late own-goal and strike from Jonas was enough to overcome a Betis side that LLL is going to describe as plucky.
Knowing Getafe, the toughest task for their coach is to come. The Madrid side has picked up 42 points with 10 matches to go, but GarcÃÂa has a difficult challenge in trying to persuade his footballers to keep on motoring until the end of the season in case a European spot becomes available.
SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao was another example of GetafeÃ¢ÂÂs current efficiency, the kind that has produced 13 points from the last 15 and three clean sheets in a row. Ã¢ÂÂThey say Madrid are going for their tenth (European title), we are going for the tenth consecutive season in la Primera,Ã¢ÂÂ announced the Getafe manager, on a team who are pretty secure of achieving that goal with plenty of wiggle room to spare.
The Andalusian club are still in LLLÃ¢ÂÂs bad books for being utterly limp once again all season, but a Good Day mention is warranted for a 4-0 victory over a hapless Zaragoza in the SÃÂ¡nchez PizjuÃÂ¡n. Sevilla are still six points from the European places though.
The 1-1 draw at Granada in the pouring rain moves Levante onto 37 points, although it does see the Valencia side without a win in la Liga in seven. It was a very handy point after the efforts in Moscow against Rubin Kazan on Thursday, given the fact many of the players were probably down in the dumps about the Europa League defeat.
A run of just one point from the previous three matches was ended by Espanyol, with a 2-0 victory against MÃÂ¡laga. Ã¢ÂÂIt was a very important step forward,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted a chirpy Perico boss, Javier Aguirre, after the clash.
The Balearic side may have lost 5-2 in the BernabÃÂ©u, but their two victories prior to that clash, along with the good form of Giovani dos Santos and Alejandro Alfaro, has convinced the blog that Mallorca will be staying up this season.
Despite an over-heated 3-1 win over Celta Vigo that saw insults hurled before the match - and a head-butt thrown during - Deportivo are still dead cert favourites to go down. The Riazor outfit still need in the region of 22 points to stay up. Nevertheless, Deportivo may have the very small consolation that they could be taking Celta down with them, thanks to this result.
If ever there was a moment when Celta were as good as down, it was Iago Aspas opting to dole out a head-butt to Carlos Marchena - who did make a bit of a meal of it, to be fair. That act of aggression contributed to an awful defeat to Deportivo and could see the sideÃ¢ÂÂs top striker and only hope of salvation out for up to four matches with a suspension. An apology on Twitter from the forward, which was forthcoming, isnÃ¢ÂÂt going to fix that slight issue for his team.
The league form for the southern side is still indifferent. MÃÂ¡lagaÃ¢ÂÂs home defeat to Espanyol gives Manuel PellegriniÃ¢ÂÂs side just two points from the past 12. However, the Champions League form of the battling team can forgive all domestic sins. Ã¢ÂÂI hope we can fight on both fronts,Ã¢ÂÂ aspired the MÃÂ¡laga manager.
A tremendous Ã¢ÂÂthe refs have got us in for itÃ¢ÂÂ rant from the Betis boss after seeing Antonio Amaya sent off for a clip from behind on Roberto Soldado that may have been just outside the box, but only by millimeters and completely impossible to spot. Ã¢ÂÂI feel like IÃ¢ÂÂm being treated like an idiot,Ã¢ÂÂ fumed Mel who now has a couple of weeks to calm down.
Ã¢ÂÂThe defeat was fair, we couldnÃ¢ÂÂt have asked for anything better,Ã¢ÂÂ was the admission from Athletic midfielder Ander Iturraspe, after a 1-0 away defeat at Getafe. The result sees the Bilbao side with just three wins from 14 on their travels this season.
The home clash against a tired Levante would be known as a six-pointer in England and a final in Spain. Either way, Granada fluffed their lines completely in a 1-1 draw to leave the Andalusian side without a win in five. Ã¢ÂÂWe lacked clarity and precision,Ã¢ÂÂ complained manager, Lucas Alcaraz.
The Zaragoza boss is in charge of an almighty mess at the moment. The players lack discipline to stay on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes - the Sevilla defeat saw another deserved sending off - and the team is still without a victory in 2013, a run of 11 league matches. All that JimÃÂ©nez could do though was moan a bit about the referees in fine la Liga tradition. Ã¢ÂÂIt was a match until the sending-off,Ã¢ÂÂ complained the Zaragoza boss.
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