A sideways look at Spanish football
COPA DEL REY SEMI-FINAL Tue 26 Feb Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid (agg 2-4) Wed 27 Feb Sevilla v Atletico Madrid (1-2)
If it were possible to pour all the aspects of the more... let’s say fervent (and definitely not lunatic) Barcelona and Real Madrid international collective into two individuals, then you’d have a couple of frothing at the mouth scary types face-to-face on Wednesday morning.
The Catalan crazy would be yelling “16 points! 16 points! 16 points! Copa del Rey smells of wee!” to the Madrid-mad counterpart, who would have fingers firmly planted in ears whilst tauntingly quoting the headline from AS: “Take that! Take that! Take that!”
La Liga Loca sounds like it’s going a bit over the top here, but a couple of tweets from a Real Madrid fan to the blog’s direction after the match is a suggestion of what kind of fever pitch emotions we're dealing with here.
“We don't need your stupid opinions about RMD, go join your fellow losers and cry to death. Dedication to your president,” yelled LLL’s new BFF. “Just go to bed with your bitterness!!!HALA MADRID!!!Apparently all your friends are crying in their blankets!” (For the purpose of balance, LLL should note that this type of nonsense also comes from the other side when the result happens to be reversed.)
Still, it keeps people happy in these troubled times, especially those at Marca and AS with the latter's editorial celebrating “the first really good night for Real Madrid this season”. Wonderful Tomás Roncero can celebrate a 1-0 win over Getafe like it’s a World Cup final, so it’s no surprise that the AS columnist is in celebratory mood, fizzing over “unified Madrid, focused, happy with life, connected, ambitious, destructive, applied, adventurous, bold, ingenious and talented.”
With the thesaurus discarded, Roncero for good measure turns his attention to Tuesday’s opposition claiming that “Barcelona are a fashion and fashions are for passengers. Madrid is the history of football, Madrid is the past, present and future. God save the King. And Madrid.”
The response in Barcelona has been to try and keep a stiff upper lip after Madrid’s best victory in the Camp Nou for 50 years, with Sport's front page declaring that “it was a disaster, but we have to pick ourselves up.”
“Barça are knocked out,” writes a gloomy Josep Maria Casanovas. “Out of the cup final, far from their best form, way below Madrid who beat them fair and square. If the defeat against Milan was a great disappointment, last night was a huge hammer blow to set off the alarms.”
With all the Clásico hullaballoo in the air, it’s easy to forget that Real Madrid’s opponents in the final – date yet to be confirmed, due to initial date's clash with the Eurovision Song Contest – are playing their semi-final second-leg clash on Wednesday night.
Atlético Madrid travel to Sevilla holding a 2-1 lead in a tie between two teams who really don’t like each other – a rivalry partly stemming from the Andalusian side claiming that they, rather than the Rojiblancos, have been the country’s third-best side in recent years.
With Atlético going great guns in la Liga, it’s fair to say that the match means a heck of a lot more for a mid-table Sevilla, with sporting director Monchi even musing that the game is more important than the 2006 UEFA Cup semi-final against Schalke. “I’m sure that the stadium is going to be a cauldron. From the first minute we are going to see a hyper-motivated and hyperactive support,” enthused club president José María del Nido.
Unai Emery is just as giddy about the affair in the Sánchez Pizjuán and brought his big game to the party in the pre-match press conference. “We have to be aggressive but controlled... and not tear into them for the sake of it, getting a red card,” explained the Sevilla boss. “We have to isolate ourselves from the excitement. It’s something that can be positive and negative at the same time.”
The club has been helping to turn the tension up a notch or two by recording a TV spot showing Sevilla fans waiting at the railway station for the Atlético squad to arrive, a whole week before the match. Sadly there were no images of the same supporters legging it sharpish when Diego Simeone and Cata Diaz come charging through the front doors wielding their suitcases like battle-hammers. LLL has a happy feeling it’s going to be that kind of game.
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