With none of the four teams immediately behind Barça managing a win, the weekend’s games left the fight for European places still wide open, whilst at the bottom, Zaragoza refuse to lie down and die
Valencia drop further behind
Real Madrid beat Sporting 3-1 at the Bernabéu to keep their four point lead ahead of next
week’s El Clásico, with Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema wiping out De Cuevas’ early penalty
and perhaps as importantly, none of the Madrid players threatened with suspension picked up
a card. Valencia are a massive 33 points behind Madrid in third and they were thrashed 4-0 at
Espanyol on Sunday, with boss Unai Emery admitting afterwards: “we were inferior physically,
tactically and emotionally”. Valencia are now just a point ahead of Málaga on 51, who were
denied a win at La Rosaleda by 10 man Real Sociedad, who lost Mikel Gonzalez for a second
yellow just before the break, but equalised at the start of the second and held on to deny their
hosts the three points.
Sevilla progress halted
With Levante (48 points) also losing, the pack of teams chasing had the chance to stake a claim
to a Europa Cup place and threaten fourth place, but they had mixed results. Osasuna sixth on
46 points had their midfield leader Raul Garcia sent off as they went down 1-0 at Betis, whilst
Sevilla saw their good run come to a shuddering halt when they were beaten 5-1 at Getafe,
despite an early Negredo opener. Sevilla stay on 45 points where they are joined by Espanyol
and Getafe, as well as Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, who both got important wins ahead
of this week’s Europa League semi finals.
Emotional display at San Mamés
It was an emotional game at San Mamés on Sunday as players and fans played homage to
the Bilbao fan who died last week. After being hit by a rubber bullet fired by police after the
Europa Cup quarter final Fernando Llorente produced a T-Shirt in honour of the dead fan to
celebrate his goal, which proved to be the winner as the game against Mallorca ended 1-0.
Atlético Madrid, meanwhile proved that they CAN win a Madrid derby, beating Rayo 0-1 at
Vallecas with Falcao notching up his 22nd strike of the campaign.
“We have the heart of a lion!”
Zaragoza continue to defy the odds and as they trooped off at the Romareda after Sunday’s
1-0 win over Granada, their fans – who so recently seemed to have given up hope – cheered
them off with chants of “Yes, we can!”. The win leaves them just 5 points behind Granada and
safety and even if they can’t make it, boss Manolo Jimenez reckons: “what I am witnessing is
faith. We are all in it together and we are working. We know that there are things wrong with
us, we know we have limitations, we know that there are things we haven't got. But we also
know what we have got and what we have got is the heart of a lion." Dujmovic scored early
on against Granada and although the visitors pressured for the remaining 90 odd minutes,
Zaragoza hung on and took the points. With Racing getting a sensational late equaliser against
Villarreal, who are level on 36 points with Granada, Zaragoza now have two teams to chase
over the last five games.