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one: Atleti. Wow, only one win between the five Spanish sides. And that win went to Diego Simeone and his ‘cojones’. Record breaking Atleti recorded their TENTH straight Europa League win as they took apart Valencia at the Vicente Calderon. The ever-scoring-not-liked-hugely Falcao bagged two more while Miranda and Adrian added one each as the ‘rojiblancos’ chalked up a 4-2 win. The best part of their win? That they can sit proudly at the top of futbolgrande’s European order of merit. Well done lads!
two: Real Madrid. Whoddathunkit? The two best teams in La Liga, the greatest sides in the world and then two defeats in the Champions League. Admittedly Real Madrid’s away loss in Germany hasn’t brought the world crashing to an end. It did though bring Jose Mourinho out for the post-match press. He, like futbolgrande, isn’t too concerned with Bayern blocking Real’s route back to the Allianz Arena. The away goal is nice, and Badstuber and Boateng will both be very breachable at the Bernabeu. Although interestingly, Madrid have conceded the odd goal at home on a slyly high number of occasions.
three: Barcelona. Barca make up the other half of La Liga representation losing the first leg of a Champions League semi. And if people could see Bayern’s win coming, Chelsea’s certainly was not on the cards. Barca huffed and puffed. They hit the post, they had efforts cleared off the line but they did not score at Stamford Bridge. 1-0 is, realistically, the best result Di Matteo could have hoped for. It is possibly the only result where people still give them a chance heading to the Nou Camp. Of course, the importance is in the nil and not the one. A Chelsea goal in Spain will make things very exciting.
four: Athletic. One nil up through Aurtenetxe Bilbao should have had least had a draw to take back to San Mames. Instead they lost 2-1 to a late Sporting flurry and will have to cling on to their away goal. It is that reason that they find themselves below Real and Barca, the reason that things should have been so much better for Bielsa and his merry men. All is not lost though, and at the ‘cathedral’ on another European night we still fancy them to advance against their Iberian rivals.
five: Valencia. Where do we begin? I guess with thanks- from a Los Che point of view- to Ricardo Costa for a latest of late goals. 4-1 would have been very tough, 4-2 is, only slightly, more comprehendable. The result is still a disaster for Unai Emery’s side who’s league form has also suffered recently. Taking Atleti back to the Mestalla will not be particularly easy either. We expect the fans to be baying for blood and waving their white hankies should Valencia not hit the ground running in the return leg.