Spanish League Round Up , Week 19

Emery, Puyol i Alba, en un duel de Copa de la temporada passada / FOTO: ARXIU FCB
Real Madrid’s goalless draw against Osasuna leaves them 18 points adrift of Barça and 7 behind second place Atletico Madrid, who beat Zaragoza 2-0

Betis closed in on Madrid’s third place with a win over Levante, whilst Rayo and Valencia are coming up fast on the rails after away wins against Bilbao and Seville who replaced manager Michel with Unai Emery on Monday

Unai Emery is back!

Unai Emery left Valencia at the end of last season and joined Spartak Moscow, but his tenure in the Russian capital only lasted until November. On Saturday, his ex-La Liga employees opened the way for his return to the Spanish game with Soldado getting both goals in Valencia’s 2-0 win over Seville. That made it just one defeat in their last five for Valencia, who move up to within four points of a top four spot, but it was Seville’s fifth defeat in their last seven and that proved too much for the board, who on Monday dismissed Michel and handed the job to Emery.

Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw by the bottom side Osasuna on Saturday night, where they clearly missed the firepower of the suspended Ronaldo. To make matters worse for Mourinho– who with Adan suspended, handed the keeper’s jersey back to Casillas – Kaka was sent off for two yellow cards after playing just half an hour of the second half. The point was a welcome one for the Basques, who remain bottom on 15 points, one behind Deportivo – who themselves took a point from their trip to Anoeta and who visit the Reyno de Navarra next weekend.

Atletico get the job done

Atletico Madrid made it ten wins from ten at home this season, when Tiago and Falcao put two past the improving Zaragoza to stay 7 points ahead of Real Madrid and a distant 11 off Barça. Malaga’s defeat opened the way for Betis to move up into the fourth Champions League spot, after Pepe Mel’s team saw off Levante 2-0 for their third win out of their last four to move three ahead of Malaga and Rayo – who took their fourth straight win with a 1-2 win at San Mames. That defeat was Bilbao’s third on the trot and with their next two games against Betis and Atletico Madrid and sitting just three points ahead of Celta and Espanyol below them, they are in serious risk of being dragged into the relegation dogfight.

Three points separating bottom six

Below Bilbao, there are a group of six teams separated by just 3 points, with Celta on 18 in 15th and Ossauna bottom with 15 points. Mallorca went down 3-1 at Valladolid, who scored twice in the last five minutes, and now sit third from bottom on 17 points, one behind Granada, who managed a 2-2 draw at Getafe on Monday night, with two penalties, including a last minute equaliser from Siquiera. Espanyol’s improvement under Xavier Aguirre continued with a 1-0 win over Celta thanks to a first half strike from Sergio Garcia which takes them level on points with the Galicians.