A sideways look at Spanish football
José Manuel PintoThe much-maligned Barça goalkeeper could well be a busy bee for a couple of la Liga games, after a classic Víctor Valdés meltdown saw 'the short-tempered one' yelling unmentionables at the referee following Saturday’s Clásico clash. The Madrid press are busy tutting and shaking their heads over the incident, although “you have no shame” - one of the comments Valdés is accused of aiming at the official - is exactly what José Mourinho’s assistant, Rui Faria, yelled at the same referee after a recent Valencia Copa del Rey clash. Certainly not suggesting any hypocrisy or short memories here...
Atlético MadridA tough call, with both Atlético and Málaga probably fairly happy with a goalless draw, but the Rojiblancos grabbed a tough point in Andalusia four days after a challenging Copa del Rey semi-final victory in Andalusia. But Málaga will be a tad concerned that they haven’t scored in the past three games - with Porto, Betis and now Atlético able to keep them at bay.
Real MadridThis is getting very confusing. Technically speaking, Barça are still 13 points ahead of Madrid, and should be all with the ‘so-what’ after a defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu. Instead, the records show that a Real Madrid ‘reserve’ team - featuring cheapie cast-offs such as Kaká, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric - beat a fully loaded Barça to make it just one defeat in the past eight matches. The daylight encounter was a largely sluggish affair, mirroring the fact that the sixth Clásico of the season was the least important match of the Primera round in terms of league position. But a late goal from Sergio Ramos and a rather controversial decision to deny Alexis Sánchez a penalty gave Real Madrid the victory and denied Barça the opportunity to pick up a point. While Real Madrid can certainly be encouraged by two wins over Barça in five days, there’s a big ‘Careful Now!’ sign ahead, with Manchester United considerably more competent that Barcelona at present. Tuesday night could see Madrid 13 points behind their Catalan rivals with just a Copa del Rey final to show for the season, despite the clear euphoria in the Madridista world ahead of Tuesday’s Old Trafford event.
Real Sociedad & BetisAfter what was a rather stodgy Sunday, with two goalless draws, these two teams served up a corker in the final match of the day. Betis surprised themselves so much in taking a two goal lead that the team promptly lost it, going 3-2 down after a now fashionable Panenka penalty from Xabi Prieto. But Pabón scored his second of the night to level the scores in what Betis boss Pepe Mel described as “a great game. Both teams could have won and lost.” “If it was boxing, we would have won on points,” claimed his Sociedad counterpart, Philippe Montanier.
GetafeClub captain, Jaime Gavilán, revealed that talk of Europe was banned in the dressing room - although the Harlem Shake wasn’t - as every time the word is brought up “we brick ourselves”. A bit like one of those low frequency amplifiers the blog once read about. Mops may be needed soon, as Friday’s 2-0 win over Getafe sees the club with three wins from three and four from five.
Levante Levante remain undefeated in the past four meetings with city rivals Valencia in Mestalla, a fact that must be fairly irksome to that part of the city, not always known for patience and understanding.
Espanyol & ValladolidBoth managers were a little chuffed after a goalless draw Marca suggested almost had the crowd shouting “let them kiss” - the sign of a clash where neither side have any real desire to win.
Markel SusaetaAthletic really, really, really needed the 1-0 victory at Osasuna. Really needed it. Honestly. Three defeats had headlines openly discussing the immediate future of Marcelo Bielsa, however a fine volley from Susaeta in a pumped and primed affair in Pamplona gave Athletic a victory after three straight league defeats. The Athletic boss spoke of heart and soul getting his players through, admitting that “the parameters used to evaluate the merits” were not in Athletic’s favour. LLL thinks Bielsa is referring to ‘stats’.
Tomer HemedThe last minute winner from the Israeli striker in the 2-1 defeat of Granada was the forward’s first effort in la Liga since the middle of November, and just Mallorca’s second victory since the end of September. LLL is not sure it’s going to make too much difference to the club’s survival chances with Real Madrid and Barcelona just around the corner, but a victory away from home can’t do any harm.
BarcelonaA golden opportunity to get some instant payback against a Madrid side that was without Mesut Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di María in the starting line-up. Heck, even José Callejón was playing, Madrid were that relaxed. But Barça were a shadow of themselves. There was tons of pretty, pointless passing, but absolutely no end product aside from a through ball to Leo Messi from Dani Alves that looked so simple, it’s a wonder by Barça can’t do it all the time. The reaction in the Barcelona to the press was split between the nonsensical and Mundo Deportivo that moaned about the penalty decision and grumbled about “theft, scandal and refereeing manipulation.” Sport were able to see the bigger picture with Sunday’s front cover fretting over “no ideas, no direction, no attitude...and just 10 days to fix it.”
David VillaThe tiny-bearded striker didn’t exactly do himself or others calling for a starting role any favours with a bit of a flat performance in the Santiago Bernabéu. Then again, Villa was in good company in that department.
ValenciaThat had to hurt. 2-1 up to pesky neighbours Levante thanks to an absolute stormer of a goal from Roberto Soldado, before a defensive slip (quite literally) let José Javier Barkero through with a minute left on the clock. “Football has been hard on us,” grumbled Valencia boss, Ernesto Valverde.
Manolo JiménezYet another one of the Zaragoza managers ‘finals’ previously spoken about was lost in a rather piddling 2-0 defeat to Getafe. The Aragon outfit have not won in nine now and could well end up in the relegation zone should Celta beat Sevilla on Monday night. This provoked an outburst from Jiménez suggesting that anyone without the cojones for the fight “jump the ship.”
DeportivoWell, it’s a point and the side’s first clean sheet in seven games, however the goalless draw at home to Rayo Vallecano didn’t do the Galician’s any good at all. Indeed the home side was perhaps lucky not to end up with a defeat after Rayo missed a number of chances in the first half. “The situation is severe...everyone knows it,” admitted manager Fernando Vazquez, who had a bad Saturday all round after his car was towed away from the stadium having been illegally parked.
Latest Spanish Football News
Mourinho to leave Real in summer
Malaga have European ban lifted by UEFA
Coach Montanier leaves Sociedad for Rennes
Perez under scrutiny after Mourinho exit
Real call Bernabeu news conference
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010