A sideways look at Spanish football
“We’re going to show that we're Real Madrid,” growled a mean and moody Esteban Granero from betwixt the pages of Tuesday’s Marca.
La Liga Loca is assuming the grungy midfielder doesn’t mean “by getting dumped out of the Champions League at the first knock-out stages” – as has happened in each of the past five seasons.
It’s February folks, so once again it’s “this year, The Tenth is ours!” time in the Madridista press - a perennial campaign that has been fairly short-lived thanks to the interventions of Juventus, Arsenal, Bayern, Roma and Liverpool.
But this time everything will be different.
This time, Real Madrid have the players to win the Champions League, with Marca proving once and for all that the paper is run by the inky-fingered Florentino Pérez.
“This Real Madrid is built to win matches like today’s,” blasts Tuesday’s editorial, all thanks to footballers of the calibre of “Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Albiol, Xabi, Kaká, CR9 and Benzema.”
Interestingly the column carelessly neglects to mention the likes of Marcelo, Lassana Diarra and more-than-handy leading scorer Gonzalo Higuaín, all of whom were signed by Ramón Calderón.
And this is why the final tainted two are likely to be flogged in summer, according to La Liga Loca’s ever-reliable sources in the city.
It's Karim Benzema who is the surprise inclusion in the party that travelled to Lyon, with the French striker supposedly ruled out last week due to a strain (or bottling his return home, according to the mischief-making Barcelona press).
A player who could never be accused of bottling games is Guti, who missed the Xerez trip due to some injury or another and has failed to make it to Lyon with an entirely different knack that has nothing to do with the weather forecast predicting inclement conditions in the Stade Gerland.
Over in the Kingdom of Catalunya, concerns are of a more domestic nature with the two main papers divided over how to spin Barça’s capitulation at the hands of the mighty Atlético Madrid.
Sport have slipped comfortably into their default cheerleader mode with their headline on Tuesday shouting that “we will win the league” and columnist Joan Vehils winning straw-grasper of the year by musing that “there’s a risk that rivals Madrid see themselves as champions and think that league is over.”
Meanwhile, Sport’s partner-in-crime Mundo Deportivo is taking things a little more seriously and is fretting over the muscle injuries picked up by Xavi, Keita, Abidal, Chrygrynskiy, Alves and Touré.
“Half of Barcelona K.O.” worry-lines the front page.
08/03/06: Arsenal 0-0 Real Madrid (aggregate 1-0)
El País have a more grown-up approach to the problem and feel that last season's lack of any major injuries was more unusual than the current series of tweaks and twangs affecting Pep’s Dream Boys.
“When you play too many games, this is normal,” opines the fortnight-knacked Xavi, who has featured in 33 of Barcelona’s 37 matches this season.
And finally, the concept of Monday night football in Spain got off to a blistering start with Tenerife thrashing Mallorca 1-0 in an end-to-end, thundering encounter.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
A blizzard in the Spanish capital put paid to the blog’s cinema night so the rather dull Canary Island encounter merely acted as mood music as La Liga Loca went about its domestic business.
The footballing equivalent of a Morcheeba CD was won by Tenerife striker Nino's goal, but it still leaves his side in the relegation zone and Mallorca with just the single away win all season.
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I could have sworn that Perez didn't buy Casillas from anybody, and that he ignored him (like the British press continue to do) during his first tenure.
What do you want the British Press to say about Casillas?!
Its not as if they run a daily 'World's Best Keeper' feature, and keep picking Almunia, or Chris Woods, or Steve Ogrizovic ahead of him.
They say how good he is during Champions League coverage. Gerry Armstrong et al sing his praises every time he's on Sky.
Rachel - That was probably the paper squeezing him onto the list. Florentino and Casillas are very much not in the bosom buddy club as Perez reportedly wanted to sell him during his first spell. I am currently working on an 'Iker growing beard in protest to Florentino's return' theory.
If only Iker could grow a proper beard eh Tim?
Rumour has it that Calderon almost signed Abel Xavier as part of the Beckham-Galaxy deal, to act as an 'inside man', a sleeper agent to disrupt Perez's impending magical return, through his beard and other hair-related adventures.
I think LLL's post on that was back before the FourFourTwo days though.
Gonzalo Higuaín is a stud... with the world (and the back rows of the world) focused on Messi, he has a chance to win the gold boot in south africa...
Bad omens! I see dead people.. All the time.. In the round of 16, what a horrific showing last night
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