A sideways look at Spanish football
The much-trumpeted Inter Milan vs Barcelona game was so god-awful that if it hadn’t been for a timely episode of Bones on a rival channel, La Liga Loca may well have pinned its tiny brain to the ceiling with the aid of a crossbow.
The weapon was just seconds from being removed from the blog’s battered old trunk marked ‘Deportivo games’ - a trunk which also contains distress flares, Liberian pain-sticks and an inflatable Penelope Cruz doll.
A truly awful encounter merely served to maintain the wider world’s belief that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a colossal dud whenever the forward faces anyone decent, and that Italian football is still frackin’ awful despite the arguments from some that it is the game in its purest form.
What’s more, the match did nothing to help to improve José Mourinho’s laughably low poll ratings in the Catalan capital, with Pep Guardiola’s complaint that “it’s not easy to play against nine men in the area.”
Not that the Inter boss will care one jot, mind.
"Am I bovvered?"
Joan Laporta looked so bored sitting in the stands, it’s as if someone was playing a year’s worth of his own speeches back to him.
Still, Thursday’s Barcelona papers were still content to claim that Pep’s Dream Boys were the worthy winners in the European encounter despite the goalless scoreline, with Sport’s headline declaring that “the champions were the best” and Mundo Deportivo boasting that “only a goal was missing.”
Sport's Josep Maria Casanovas complained that “the duel between Eto’o and Ibra was a huge disappointment.”
And this was a big surprise indeed for a columnist who said the previous day that Barça’s game was the only one worth watching that week in Europe.
“In the group stages of the Champions League, there are sides full of players whose names we have never heard of," he said, perhaps referring to Sevilla.
"Like Zurich, for example, who took on the Whites, last night.”
Nevertheless, that particular match is one that has given the Madridista press even more proof, if that were necessary, that the Third-Choice Chilean will be leading his side to Champions League glory come May, with AS snarling that “Real Madrid warn Europe.”
That they cannot defend set-pieces, perhaps.
Despite the 5-2 victory, the paper’s editor Alfredo Relaño was spitting ham over the performance of English referee Martin Atkinson for daring to award a (very funny) penalty against Madrid and book six of their players.
Clearly, the man in the middle hasn’t read the la Liga handbook.
"How very dare you"
“They have Platini as an ally in this plot to stop Madrid lifting the European Cup in the Bernabeu,” grumbled Tomás Roncero, who also noted that “Cristiano is smelling the Tenth.”
Over in Laporta-land, Mundo Deportivo merely sniffed that Madrid were “forceful up front, a flan[?!] at the back, and managed a suspiciously big score-line.”
Atlético Madrid didn't disappoint their many followers on Tuesday night with a campaign-crushing goalless draw at home to APOEL Nicosia.
And neither they did not disappoint the watching hacks, who got to take off their gloves - metaphorically speaking - and punch Abel Resino’s side onto the canvas of oblivion.
“The referee should have stopped the game to preserve the mental health of the spectators,” stomped AS's Iñako Díaz-Guerra, who also turned his attentions to midfielder Cleber Santana, whom he compared to “the AVE [Spanish super-train] of footballers: no one carries the ball faster to the feet of the opposition.”
His partner-in-crime at the paper, F. Javier Díaz, sighed heavily with his lamentation that “other sides would have taken the opportunity of APOEL’s visit to put an end to the bad start to the season. But not Atleti. We’re different.”
The normally stern and sober El País thundered that Atlético’s “performance in the first half was a criminal offence,” with the Cypriot opposition missing two clear chances to cause an even bigger upset on the night.
"What a load of old..."
No such blank-firing at the Sánchez Pizjuán, with the mighty Sevilla ruthlessly dispatching Romanians Unirea Urziceni 2-0.
But even more entertaining than Luis Fabiano’s rather fine opening strike was one Spanish TV channel trying to get the local fans to tell them who Sevilla were facing.
“Uuussssss...” “Ooohh-something...” “Uuniiiiii...” were some of the shrugging responses from the Andalusian answer-givers.
Atlético fans are unlikely to be suffering from such problems in naming their own opposition - rivals that made their team the undisputed Champions League chumps of the week.
FourFourTwo.com: More to read...
"A flan at the back" - soft and wobbly maybe? It's a new one on me too.
Finally we are comparing football teams with food. I reckon Atleti are like a late night kebab, seems like a good idea at the time, gets very messy very quickly and everyone feels alot worse afterwards.
Nice to have the Champ. League back, though it usually takes some time for it to get rev'ed up. Based on tuesdays game, Madrid won't win it: having Kaka and Ronaldo on the flanks in a system with two additional attacking players would be suicide against a stronger side. I'm still not convinced they can play together. On the other hand I'm feeling a bit of a flan up top today myself so maybe I'm wrong.
"boring" is an understatement...
¨Hecho un flan´means overcome with nerves, which is why we won´t win the CL in the Bernabéu
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