A sideways look at Spanish football
Tito VilanovaJust 17 days after surgery for a glandular tumour, the Barcelona boss was back on the bench at the Camp Nou. Inspirational stuff.
PedroLa Liga Loca feels that it’s probably been a while since the Canary Islander has appeared in the Good Day section on a Monday, but a brace in the 4-0 win against Espanyol eased a bit of the goal-scoring burden from Leo Messi's shoulders.
Cristiano RonaldoHis team-mates may have lost their heads a little of late, but Ronaldo keeps on delivering. The brace against Real Sociedad sees the forward with 171 goals in 171 official games for his club, who really should be able to encourage Real Madrid to find enough cash lying around to keep the footballer happy with a new contract.
BetisStill mad as a car full of spanners and still completely predictable in their unpredictability, or something like that. Betis have won six of their nine away games this season, which puts the side just behind Barcelona in the 'away league', but they are distinctly mid-table in terms of their home record despite pulling off results like beating Real Madrid in Sevilla. The latest victory away from Andalusia was a 2-1 nuzzling of Zaragoza, which put Betis back into the Champions League chase, equal on points with the potentially outcast-from-Europe-next-season Málaga.
LevanteIt’s unlikely the Valencia side are going to make the Champions League places, so Levante’s aim in January and February may well be to rack up as many points as possible to reach the 42 required for survival, then give the current Europa League campaign a good old go in the spring. That challenge got off to a most brilliant start with a steamrollering of a dreadful Athletic Bilbao which left Levante on 30 points and just four more victories short of target number one of 2013. “We put the oranges out on the balcony, passed out the sweets and we’ve been left three points,” chirped a Three Kings-referencing manager, Juan Ignacio Martínez.
Sergio BallesterosWith his appearance against Athletic Bilbao, the Levante captain triggered a clause in his current contract giving the defender another year of life at the Valencia club. Hurrah.
ValenciaStill a long way from impressing the hard to please LLL, but back-to-back wins over Getafe and Granada moves the east coast club a little nearer to the Champions League places, where the side should have been all along this season.
Iago AspasCelta boss Paco Herrera had been complaining that the forward had been a little off the boil of late, but Iago Aspas grabbed two goals to give Celta the side’s first victory in five games. To be fair, the striker’s second was from the spot after he himself handled the ball, but these things tend to happen in la Liga these days.
MallorcaThe point against Atlético Madrid is another step in a slow recovery process for Mallorca who have now picked up four from six to take the team out of the drop zone.
Domingos PacienciaThe new Deportivo boss was in generous mood after his debut on the Galician bench which saw a victory for his new team, a 1-0 win over Malaga. “Four training sessions aren’t very many...a lot of it was the work of the last coach. We can do better but we owe (José Luis) Oltra a big hug for what he did beforehand.”
Atlético MadridThe lack of forward fire power from the Rojiblancos - who were without the suspended Falcao and Arda Turan - saw Atlético struggling to overcome Mallorca and only muster a 1-1 draw.
Antonio AdánReal Madrid’s much-maligned No.2 goalkeeper has been caught in the media wars of late, having been the choice of José Mourinho in his battle against all things Iker Casillas. The Portuguese manager was keen to denounce boos against Adán at the Bernabeu by Real Madrid fans, and the keeper himself sounded more than a little fed up with the whole business, having been sent off just seven minutes into the 4-3 win at Real Sociedad. “Things have been said to me that show a complete lack of respect,” was the rightful gripe of a player that has been at Real Madrid for 17 years.
Xabi PrietoThe Real Sociedad midfielder had to experience the mixed joy and despair of scoring a hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu and still being on the end of a defeat.
ValladolidThe defeat to Celta continues a bit of an iffy run of late, with three defeats and a draw from the side’s last four matches.
ZaragozaThe yin to the yang of Betis. While the aforementioned Sevilla side having won six of their nine away matches, Zaragoza have contrived to lose six from nine at home. “Once more, the loss was not fair and came due to clear individual errors,” complained coach, Manolo Jiménez, moaning that without unfair pesky errors creeping into the side, Zaragoza would be top of the table.
Marcelo BielsaDefeats either side of the Christmas break left the tiny hope of a recovery for Athletic squashed under the ironing board of reality. Nevertheless, Marcelo decided to make things worse by admitting that Levante didn’t play particularly well in a match that still saw Athletic defeated. “I hope I don’t upset the supporters of the local team but Levante didn’t attack nor defend as they normally do, but despite this they beat us,” complained the Argentinean on a side who apparently scored three goals without attacking.
Aymeric LaporteLLL isn't sure if the young centre-back was sent off for a last-ditch tackle gone wrong, or rolling around pretending to be injured in a cunning plan to avoid the incoming card.
GranadaPoor Granada. The team are having to stumble along with strikers who given enough chances to score goals but proceed to blow them over the bar from two yards and refereeing decisions such as the one that sent off Mikel Rico in the 2-1 home defeat to Valencia for a non-existent hand ball.
José Luis MendilibarIt was quite the rant by the Pamplona boss after the 1-0 defeat to Sevilla, with the struggling manager complaining that “it’s very easy to whistle against Osasuna.” Mendilibar was moaning about a goal ruled out for Osasuna for handball (correct decision) and an offside during Sevilla’s winner (debatable). However, Mendilibar was fortunate that his side weren’t down to ten men in the first half after goalkeeper, Andrés, took out Alvaro Negredo outside of his box.
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