A sideways look at Spanish football
"You and your big mouth..."
Like a saucy spat between two fiery Latino lovers, the bust-up between Marca and Real Madrid finished as quickly as it began - and just as it was starting to look fun, too.
Late last week, Florentino Pérez and the paper were airing their dirty laundry in public, each implying that the other had their lying underwear clearly ablaze over the issue of an alleged dressing room revolt against José Mourinho.
Fortunately, Sara Carbonero - squeeze of Iker Casillas - seems to have addressed that particular issue by revealing to Mexican TV channel Televisa Deportes that “at the moment, there is a division in the dressing room.” It was a declaration that must have had the crocked Madrid goalkeeper waving his one functioning hand in frustration, the same hand he'll be using to cover his eyes in fear on Wednesday, should stand-in stopper Antonio Adán be playing in goal for his team.
Tho two sides had bonked and made up by Saturday, with Marca ditching the previous two days' narrative by running a front page declaration that Cristiano Ronaldo was set to be the “di Stefano of the 21st century” - and not by playing international football for about 18 different countries. “Madrid are building a future project around Cristiano,” panted the paper in the biggest non-story since the last one.
The renewed willingness to tow the party line and put the muzzle back on comes just in time for the fourth Clásico of the season, the halfway mark of what could be eight if the two teams meet in the Champions League, Merciful Zeus forbids. In terms of history, Wednesday night’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg game at the Santiago Bernabéu is number 223 between the pair, with Madrid currently in front with 88 wins to Barça’s 87.
See, we can all play nicely...sort of
LLL has a feeling those scores may well be evened out by 11pm Spanish time, with a makeshift Madrid back line of Michael Essien, Raphael Varane, Ricardo Carvalho and Alvaro Arbeloa set to spend 90 minutes chasing Leo Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Pedro, David Villa and Cesc Fabregas. Not even the unique comedy stylings of Barça’s own second-choice net-tender, José Pinto, are likely to be enough to even things out - but the 37-year-old is sure to give it a darn good go regardless.
This sense of doom is shared by the Madrid papers, with Wednesday’s editions bigging up the magnificence of the affair, rather than the chances of Real Madrid of winning it. “The best against the best,” yells Marca, while AS claim "The Cup needs a king". Over in the Catalan capital, a confident Sport claim Real Madrid can “look but not touch the Copa del Rey” whilst the more laid back Mundo Deportivo is excited about “a Clásico with everything,” on a front cover featuring both Leo Messi and Sara Carbonero.
AS reports that Tito Vilanova - currently in New York, receiving treatment for his illness - will be in constant contact with Jordi Roura on the Barcelona bench through What’s App. However, it seems the Catalan has been having issues finding Barcelona games on his television, so has been watching live-streams. LLL can’t imagine what it must be like for poor Tito to have a commentator from a former Russian republic yelling “Messi....Messi....M” only for the feed to freeze as the Argentinean is bearing down on the Real Madrid goal.
Yet Vilanova won’t be the only person in a far-flung corner of the planet desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the fixture anyway he can. There may be an average of approximately 19 Clásicos a year these days, but these games always deliver, whether it be Mourinho doing something insane or Ronaldo and Messi being generally brilliant and scoring tons of goals.
Miss it at your peril, puny humans.
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