A sideways look at Spanish football
If Joan Laporta’s wettest dream, an independent Catalan football side, ever comes true, then at least one part of the Spain manager’s life would have been made considerably easier: the politics.
Of course, this undeniable upside would be instantly countered by losing the likes of Pique and Xavi and having to build the midfield around Guti, a footballer who now claims to have rediscovered his Christian roots and has demonstrated this leap of faith by recreating the roof of the Sistine Chapel in a enormous tattoo on his left arm.
Saturday’s 2-1 World Cup win over Armenia has left Spain with nine wins from nine in their group, eight points clear of their final opponents, Bosnia, and Vicente del Bosque in a charitable mood with his players.
The Barça ones, anyway, complains the Madrid press.
Spain’s coach has decided to allow the rib-bruised and suspended-anyway Carles Puyol to travel back to Barcelona along with the apparently knee-knacked Xavi.
And this has got AS’s panties in a bunch with the paranoid paper suspecting that a dodgy deal has been made between Pep Guardiola and the national manager – a suspicion that has come up in the past with injured Barça players returning home only to return for their next league encounters.
“I don’t have any agreements with any club,” sighed the moustachioed manager in a response oft uttered down the years by the national team boss.
Monday’s irritable edition is also accusing Del Bosque of double standards over his treatment of Fernando Torres, who has been troubled with muscle issues all week and only lasted 55 minutes of yet another non-scoring encounter.
But despite admitting that he has had conversations with a concerned Rafa Benítez, Del Bosque tells AS that his striker isn’t going anywhere and may play again on Wednesday, due to injuries to David Villa and Dani Güiza.
“I told [Benítez] that he is being well taken care of,” said the Spain manager about a player who has returned to Liverpool in an injured state five times.
Marca are also crying foul over players poleaxed on international duty.
Spitting flames over Cristiano Ronaldo’s ankle injury, which will see him on the sidelines for a month, Marca may never be ready to make nice with Portugal and their ex-Madrid-managing coach.
“Their doctor and [manager Carlos] Queiroz took advantage of the good faith of Cristiano,” moaned Monday’s editorial, saying that both should have listened to Madrid’s own medical report warning of the risks of playing their expensive product in the win over Hungary.
“It’s the opposite to what Del Bosque has done,” continued the complaint, which claims that the Spain coach has chosen club over country – all very brave in a game that was completely meaningless for his own side.
Unfortunately, there is no further word as to whether Portugal's bosses should have taken heed of Marca’s Saturday headlines, which boasted that Ronaldo would not be “hiding from this crucial match for Portugal.”
AS have taken a different line, with a reasonable Alfredo Relaño arguing that Ronaldo’s contribution to Portugal’s opening goal was key and asking whether the winger was “supposed to tell his country that his ankle pain meant that he preferred to count his millions in Madrid, whilst Portugal played for their World Cup future?”
But that’s of no concern to Marca, who are in full sulk mode and praying that their superstar player can return in time for Madrid’s encounter against Barcelona on November 29 – a game that is apparently the first “match of the century” of the current campaign.
Liverpool fans may be having the same worries over Fernando Torres' availability in the immediate future.
But for Marca, there's one major difference between those two giants of the world game. Only one of them plays for Real Madrid.
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Spain wouldn't lose Iniesta as he is from (visca!) Fuentealbilla in the province of Albacete.
Adamcule - And I swapped his name with Cesc! Everyone knows he's from the ar*e end of Spain. A bad Monday morning for me! I shall get that corrected.
“Their doctor and [manager Carlos] Queiroz took advantage of the good faith of Cristiano,”
Nice one, adam. Let's hope the British press who seem to think he was born in the Camp Nou, along with everyone else in the team, take note.
Can anyone explain why there appears to be a 666 right at the top of Guti's tattoo, above the angel?
A bit rich from Marca, I remember Puyol asking to play a qualifier even though he was suffering a face injury, and risked missing the Madrid vs Barça game, (he did miss it in the end). Other Barça players have gone on to play though injured to Laportas chagrinn no doubt.
In any case the most vociferous whinger on this matter, if memory serves is Rafa Benítez.
Still, its getting (more), childish all this tit for tat playground politics.
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