La Liga wrap: Mourinho’s turbulent Madrid reign approaches its end
La Liga wrap: Real Madrid confirm Jose Mourinho's turbulent three-year reign is set to come to an end. Tom Wellman reports
Mourinho exit confirmed as turbulent three years come to an end
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez confirmed the inevitable departure of Jose Mourinho at a news conference on Monday. For months, Mourinho has talked about leaving for a club “where he is loved” with strong rumours linking him with a return to Chelsea – and his departure is a huge step towards a move back to Stamford Bridge. Mourinho and Madrid came to the agreement that he should leave the club so Chelsea wouldn’t have to make a financial settlement with Los Blancos to obtain his services. The announcement comes days after a humiliating defeat by Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Cup, their first loss to their rivals in 13 years, and ends a dismal season with no major silverware. Mourinho guided Madrid to the league title last year, smashing the record points total in the process, but will surely be remembered for his tumultuous year in which he publicly rowed with key players and failed to correct the early drop in form. Most importantly though, Mourinho failed to win the Champions League with Real, their 10th title, something which he promised when he first joined the club.
Abidal and Vilanova lift the title for Barcelona
It was a subdued evening in Barcelona as the hosts faced Valladolid in front of just 50,000 people in the pouring rain at the Camp Nou. The hosts won 2-1 but failed to get out of second gear all night, missing their usual verve and the mercurial Lionel Messi due to injury. Having already won the title, this game summed up their past few months as they cemented three points without playing with any real hunger. Barça could still win the league with 100 points but many will see the season as a forgettable one, partly due to their thumping in the Champions League. Despite taking the title from Real Madrid, it has been disappointing for Spanish football with Madrid failing to make a real fist of defending their title, with the league virtually sealed in December. On a brigther note, Carlos Puyol gave the trophy to manager Tito Vilanova and Eric Abidal to lift, both of whom have overcome serious illness to commit to the club in the last season, a fantastic gesture from the champions.
Mallorca give themselves hope but lack of quality will secure their fate soon
Mallorca’s 1-0 win over Real Betis ensured that they would not enter the penultimate round of games bottom but any realistic chance of avoiding the drop remains unlikely. On Monday night, both sides showed little quality and were haplessly poor as Betis looked as though they’d rather be anywhere but on the island. As for Mallorca, their finishing was disastrous and centre-back Pedro Geromel looked destined to allow Betis to score. Víctor Casadesús has eight shots but none of them troubled Betis keeper Adrián. The visitors showedm a lack of desire and played with a sluggish mentality as though they’d already secured Europa League football for next season. If both sides put in similar performances in their final two games then neither will achieve their aims for the season.
Timely win for Granada puts Osasuna in real danger
Having moved the Spanish Cup final to the Friday evening so that it wouldn’t clash with the Eurovision Song Contest, Spanish TV bosses chose to show Granada versus Osasuna at the time when viewing figures would be low. Granada claimed a surprise 3-0 win in a decent game which almost secures their safety and plunges Osasuna into real trouble. The scoreline might have looked harsh on Osasuna as the pivotal moment came on 79 minutes when 1-0 down. Fernando Nano brought down Yacine Brahimi in the area and was dismissed before Guilherme Siqueira chipped in the penalty to secure the win for Granada. Diego Buonanotte added another goal in stoppage time but the game had been taken from Osasuna’s grip by then. Having looked safe for the past few months, Osasuna are now just two points above the drop zone as Deportivo continue their good form just a point behind them. As for Granada, the win puts them onto 39 points, five clear of Zaragoza in 18th and almost certainly secures top-flight football for next season.