A sideways look at Spanish football
Leo MessiLa Liga Loca caught Leo Messi’s record-breaking performance in a bar spattered with Madridistas who were Béticos for 90 minutes, hoping that a knee-knackered Argentinean would either be too injured to play or fail to get into the game which was a dangerous one for the Catalan club, as the second half proved. It was not to be, with Messi producing tiny gasps of admiration - quickly stifled - with two devastating finishes which took him to 86 goals in a calendar year. “I don’t think we are ever going to see a player like this ever again,” admitted Tito Vilanova on a footballer who still has three more matches to further increase his incredible 2012 tally.
Atlético MadridOnce again, the Rojiblancos were doubted after back-to-back defeats in la Liga and the Europa League, but once again Atlético prove that the team is a resilient and above-all professional outfit these days, as shown with Sunday’s dismissal of Deportivo.
Diego CostaOf course, Falcao seems to be dominating the news, having become only the second Atlético Madrid player in history to score five goals in a game, and the first footballer in la Liga to do it since Fernando Morientes in 2001-02, but the Colombian’s admittedly decent performance would not have been possible had Diego Costa not softened Deportivo up with his opener. Sometimes only LLL makes any sense (sigh).
Real MadridLLL thought this was going to be another load of dropped points away from home for José Mourinho’s side (although Karanka is being seen more and more these days). Although the prediction was completely wrong, as usual, the vibe was right, with Real Madrid looking very much like particularly energetic headless chickens at Valladolid and resorting to kitchen sink panic when things weren’t working out. The side normally relies on individual performances for its victories rather than team efforts - Cristiano Ronaldo more often than not - but on this occasion it was a Mesut Özil who carried the Real Madrid can with two goals.On Saturday night, Madrid got away with the win, but have three defeats in eight in la Liga on the road and the only victory that was properly comprehensive in the manner of last year’s form was the 5-0 victory at Mallorca. Sometimes the issue is a lack of intensity from the footballers, but on Saturday it was as if Madrid simply didn’t have a notion of what to do when the whistle went, aside from hoping someone would come up with the goal-scoring goods.
Florentino PérezTomás Guasch writing in Marca, certainly seems to think the Madrid president had a good time during the Valladolid clash, with a pack of attacking players on and midfielders in defence. “Back in the day, he wanted to put Beckham at rightback and Zidane as a sweeper. All the Galacticos together and winning 4-6."
MálagaA pleasing 4-0 victory against Granada and a getting-the-job-done sort of performance stuffed with admirable efficiency. “We’ve been playing la Liga and the Champions League. We’ve got 25 points now, which is what we had last season after the whole of the first half of the campaign and we’ve still got four matches left,” chirped a chuffed Manuel Pellegrini.
LevanteA devastating, brilliant display from a Levante side that simply doesn’t stop working, working and working. The 4-0 win over Mallorca brought a standing ovation from a home crowd that have seen their side genuinely fighting for a Champions League spot, through to the knock-out stages of the Europa League and still up and running in the Copa del Rey. Time for a bit of a party then? “I’m going to celebrate with a paella and tomorrow we’ll go back to work,” announced Levante boss, Juan Ignacio Martínez.
GetafeIf it hadn’t been for pesky Real Sociedad and their injury time equaliser, Getafe would have picked up all three points for the side’s fourth win in a row and the club’s best ever start in la Primera. All this with still just the single goal from the squad’s strikers in 15 matches. Even Riki on a recall would be a tempting transfer option for the team, these days.
Manucho & Miroslav Djukic Although Valladolid striker Manucho was on the losing side despite a brace, and his coach saw his team defeated at home in the 3-2 loss to Real Madrid, it was apparently still a good day for the pair, as far as acheiving their pre-set goals was concerned. “It’s a chance to leave our anonymity so people know us, and people say ‘who is Djukic,” announced the Serbian coach before the encounter. “It helps my profile, so I’m known in the world, but I’m not thinking about myself,” noted a happy Valladolid striker thinking about himself and his two goals.
Carlos MartínezA first Primera goal for the Real Sociedad defender and the first league strike since his March 2008 effort against Racing Ferrol. “It’s true that I had a bad run in front of goal,” admitted Martínez, “but I hoped that one would come some day.”
Ernesto ValverdeAn immediate bounce from the arrival of Ernesto Valverde, with Valencia picking up their first la Liga away win of the season with a 1-0 victory at Osasuna. “I haven’t had that much time with them,” admitted the new boss who took over midweek, “a couple of training sessions, a couple of chats, and little else. When you come in the middle of the season, there’s not much you can do.”
EspanyolIf Javier Aguirre says there’s reason to be cheerful following a 2-2 draw that saw his Espanyol team lose the lead lost in the last seconds of the game, then LLL is not going to argue with the great man. Mainly because he’s a bit scary. It was a match where the referee was a tad bored and gave two penalties and sent off José Antonio Reyes just to see the look on the Sevilla man’s face. “We’ve grown as a team and the attitude of the team is irreproachable,” said Espanyol’s new Mexican manager who has lead his team to back-to-back draws. Considerably better than the previous back-to-back defeats.
Sergio RamosThe Real Madrid defender suspects there’s something fishy going on after having a perfectly good effort ruled out for offside against Valladolid, the same decision that befell Karim Benzema a fortnight ago in the defeat at Betis. “It’s upsetting as it’s a lot of games now that things have gone against us,” complained Ramos.
SevillaA last gasp Alvaro Negredo effort prevented another miserable round for Sevilla, who have now picked up just the single league win in seven. Michel the Manager was more irked, though, about the referee who sent off José Antonio Reyes for two yellow cards, the second for taking a free-kick too quickly. “We deserved to win, with ten men my team was praiseworthy,” boasted the Sevilla boss whose seemingly ill-disciplined team have now had five red cards playing 239 minutes against opponents whilst down to ten men.
Marcelo BielsaIt was back-to-basics stuff for Athletic Bilbao, who sneaked past Celta Vigo 1-0 in San Mamés. It was a barrage of crosses into the Galician box for ninety minutes, so it’s only natural that Fernando Llorente would be left on the bench by Bielsa for the entire game, putting three crucial points at risk.
Andrés FernándezRoberto Soldado’s second half effort for Valencia saw the Osasuna goalkeeper beaten for the first time in 422 minutes in la Liga.
MallorcaDesperate stuff from Mallorca, who were without ideas going forward and a shambles at the back, something that really isn’t the hallmark of a Joaquín Caparrós side who are known for solidity and prodigious work rates. “We were bad, really bad,” admitted the Mallorca boss whose team have now picked up just two points from 30, “but we are not dead. When I’m dead, I wake up, but I’m not dead at the moment.” Caparrós clearly showed that he was alive and kicking by then suggesting that a question from a journalist on boardroom issues at Mallorca was complete “drivel”.
Juan Antonio Anquela The Granada boss should perhaps be in the Good Day section as despite the 4-0 defeat to Málaga that leaves the side in the relegation zone, Anquela is still safe in his job with the Granada president publicly backing his manager. “I have total confidence in him. The second year is the hardest and the players need support and if they have to scream, then they can do it to me.”
DeportivoThe hammering from Atlético Madrid plonks Desperate Depor to the bottom-of-the-table having conceded 37 goals in 15 games and just two league victories. “The situation is difficult but can be saved,” claimed Deportivo manager, José Luis Oltra after the trashing.
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