A sideways look at Spanish football
FFT's man in Madrid, Tim Stannard, names the winners and losers of the weekend's La Liga action...
Leo Messi & David VillaIt’s apparently happy families again at the Camp Nou, after Barça’s 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. “I’ve heard a lot of things, that there’s conflict (between the two), and it’s absurd,” charged Jordi Roura, who may have had his last experience on the Barça bench with Tito Vilanova possibly about to return. “I hope it’s my last game. It means Tito will be back,” said a probably very relieved Roura.
Real MadridIf Madrid’s 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.
Luka ModricThe 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 wasn’t a total rip-off with a price tag of around €35m.
Diego CostaNot a spectacular performance from Atlético 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. “I hope he can keep on getting better,” said Diego Simeone after the match, “he can improve a lot.”
Antoine GriezmannLa Liga Loca is now ready to declare that Champions League qualification is officially on for Real Sociedad. Oh yes. The Basque side’s 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. “The fans dream but we are going forward with humility,” said la Real coach, Philipe Montanier, keeping things on the down-low (technically that means ‘secret’ but LLL likes the expression, anyway).
ValenciaA 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.
Luis GarcíaKnowing Getafe, the toughest task for their coach is to come. The Madrid side has picked up 42 points with 10 matches to go, but García 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. Saturday’s 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao was another example of Getafe’s current efficiency, the kind that has produced 13 points from the last 15 and three clean sheets in a row. “They say Madrid are going for their tenth (European title), we are going for the tenth consecutive season in la Primera,” announced the Getafe manager, on a team who are pretty secure of achieving that goal with plenty of wiggle room to spare.
SevillaThe Andalusian club are still in LLL’s 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 Sánchez Pizjuán. Sevilla are still six points from the European places though.
LevanteThe 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.
EspanyolA run of just one point from the previous three matches was ended by Espanyol, with a 2-0 victory against Málaga. “It was a very important step forward,” admitted a chirpy Perico boss, Javier Aguirre, after the clash.
MallorcaThe Balearic side may have lost 5-2 in the Bernabéu, 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.
DeportivoDespite 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.
Iago AspasIf 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
side’s 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, isn’t going to fix that slight issue for his team.
MálagaThe league form for the southern side is still indifferent. Málaga’s home defeat to Espanyol gives Manuel Pellegrini’s side just two points from the past 12. However, the Champions League form of the battling team can forgive all domestic sins. “I hope we can fight on both fronts,” aspired the Málaga manager.
Pepe MelA tremendous “the refs have got us in for it” 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. “I feel like I’m being treated like an idiot,” fumed Mel who now has a couple of weeks to calm down.
Athletic Bilbao“The defeat was fair, we couldn’t have asked for anything better,” 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.
GranadaThe 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. “We lacked clarity and precision,” complained manager, Lucas Alcaraz.
Manolo JiménezThe 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 Jiménez could do though was moan a bit about the referees in fine la Liga tradition. “It was a match until the sending-off,” complained the Zaragoza boss.
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