A sideways look at Spanish football
Lately, LLL has been comparing José Mourinho to a twirly moustache-sporting pantomime villain. However, judging by the Bernabeu boos on Sunday night, there's nobody to shout "Behind you!" – because everyone is against him.
A poll of 705 Real Madrid club members published in Wednesday’s Marca shows that just 54% think the Portuguese should stay in the job next season – down from 94% last season. Not only that, but 61% feel that the coach’s behaviour damages the image of the club.
Mourinho has another chance to boost his popularity in Wednesday night's Copa del Rey tie; visitors Celta Vigo are 2-1 up from the first leg. On the positive side for the capital city club, Celta have only won one of their last 10 away games in all competitions; then again, as Marca's stats desk admirably reveals, Madrid haven't won recovered from a first-leg deficit in the Spanish Cup or Champions League in 12 attempts.
Celta boss Paco Herrera gives his team just 10% chance of going through to the quarter-finals, while nobody knows what Mourinho or even Aitor Karanka think as neither spoke to the press before the match, with the pair sensibly dodging endless questions from AS on why the coach was watching his son training for his football team during the Ballon d’Or ceremony when he said he would be preparing for Wednesday’s clash instead. “Mourinho is hiding,” claims the paper’s front cover ahead of the last 16 game.
Xabi Alonso spoke instead and fooled no-one when revealing that the relationship between Iker Casillas and his manager is “respectful, cordial and trying to work for the team,” despite the goalkeeper being dropped from the starting line-up for two league games and quite possibly the clash with Celta Vigo, with no one entirely sure who will be standing between the sticks for the game.
1 Dec: Mourinho tests the fans' reaction
Should Madrid go through, they will face Valencia in the next round after the Mestalla side beat Osasuna 2-1 in the second leg on Tuesday. This means that the two sides will be playing each other three times in a row in the league and cup.
It’s set to be the same situation with Málaga and Barcelona – starting this weekend. The southern side had a wobble on Tuesday against Eibar, spending 74 minutes losing to the lower-league outfit before knocking in four goals. Barcelona host Córdoba on Thursday, holding a 2-0 lead to set up a quarter-final match with Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
There are two other clashes taking place on Wednesday. Levante travel to Zaragoza 1-0 down but probably unfussed about whether or not the deficit is made up, considering their intense interests in the league (they're sixth) and Europa League (they face Olympiacos in next month's round of 32).
However, the lowest crowd in recorded history may well be at the Sánchez Pizjuán for Sevilla vs Mallorca, what with the home team holding a 5-0 advantage and the drop-dodging visitors not exactly prepared to die for the lost cause.
“We know that the Cup is a very nice competition... but now there are other priorities,” said Mallorca coach Joaquín Caparrós, who may consider picking himself. Despite being 57.
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