Normal service resumes after some sort of accord momentarily broke out yesterday and the Spanish football papers from Barcelona and Madrid have returned to their trenches either side of the great divide. Marca and AS both focus upon Spain's 1-0 win over Italy, while in Barcelona, Sport and MD pretend it never happened and concentrate on transfer gossip. So, it's Benzema and Diego for Barcelona, Schuster and Cannavaro for the chop, Ronaldinho for Chelsea, Xabi Alonso and Fabiano for Madrid and De La Red for Liverpool: all in our paper review.....Oh,and how could we forget?: Ronnie likes girls.
Barcelona's SPORT has a very tasteful picture of a hangman's noose and a photo of Ramon Calderon on it's front page. Inside the noose are the names of eight Real Madrid players that the paper believes are on the President's black list and heading for the Bernabeu trap door: Saviola, Dudek, Baptista, Salgado, Soldado, Metzelder, Cannavaro and Diarra.
The Catalan paper claims that all of those will be sold in the summer as none of them have lived up to expectations this season and none are believed to "have sufficient quality to take the side forward in the future." SPORT also claims, as did Marca yesterday, that Schuster is also facing the "guillotine" (clearly the graphics dept. didn't have a picture of one of those) and that the Madrid President regrets ever having appointed him: "Schuster is at fault for the defeats, he can't read a match, he is inadequate tactically, he can't communicate with his players and he can't make changes to the side when they need to be made," writes SPORT clearly impressed by Madrid's position at the top of La Liga and four points clear of Barcelona.
The other Barcelona sports paper, El Mundo Deportivo, leads with one of its favourite kinds of story: wild speculation about who Barcelona will be signing in the summer. MD always gives us a list of names that, by next season, it will have listed so many that most people will have forgotten who they were anyway; and when one does actually sign, then MD can boast that you read all about it first and exclusively here.
MD reckons that Barcelona technical director Txiki Begiristain has identifiied four positions that need reinforcing: A superstar, an attacking midfielder, a right back and a centre half. Today's front page exclusive 'confidential' 'Txiki's top secret' list of names includes Werder Bremen's Diego as the AM, Phillipp Lahm as the LB, Benzema as the superstar. The paper can't make up it's mind who the centre half is going to be but says that it might be Garay or Lucio, but it definitely won't be Coloccini.
MD also manages to squeeze on to it's front page the news that Chelsea "are in Pole Position to sign Ronaldinho"; as all of the paper's agreed yesterday, the Brazilian is definitely leaving in the summer and the only doubts remain over where he will go and for how much - if anything at all - Barcelona can hope to sell him for.
The possible swap deal between Liverpool and Real Madrid with Ruben de la Red plus ten million euros going one way and Xabi Alonso going the other. Oh, and by the way, Spain played yesterday and Carles Puyol got injured, says MD.
If Spain's victory in the friendly against Italy hardly gets a mention in Barcelona, then in contrast it dominates the Madrid press.
"Permission to Dream" bellows AS from its front page headline. The paper helpfully reminds us that Italy are
the world champions and that Luis Aragones' Spanish sided have gone 16 months (14 games) without a defeat. True to form, AS simply cannot talk about the national team without mentioning its pin up boy Raul and we are informed that "Just as the crowd were starting to chant for Raul, David Villa scored the only goal of the game to save Aragones further embarrassment."
As usual, Tomas Guasch is excellent value as he praises Spain's "massive confidence boost" with a 1-0 win and a display of passing football that contrasted with the "cynicism and cunning" of the Italians who resorted to "kicking people as the Spanish stroked the ball around" . According to Guasch, Spain "within their 4-1-4-1 formation have a system, an idea and a plan…the road to the Euros has been impeccable, let's stick to it."
Marca also get a little carried away with the 1-0 win and Villa's goal, proclaiming on its front page that "Winning like this, anything is possible!" Marca is also very excited about the way that Spain are shaping up and takes particular delight from the fact that the win was over an "Italian side that set out to intimidate and kick people." To get an idea of just how the Spanish view the Italians when it comes to football, read Dr Sid Lowe's excellent article here.
Marca also make room on its front page for a curious anecdote involving Bernd Schuster and his own personal website. The paper writes that:" Schuster's web page criticises the coach and states that 'he obviously got things wrong in not playing Diarra against Valencia' and goes on to say that 'Real Madrid's biggest weakness is it's strategy, particularly at set pieces."
Marca also informs us that Luis Fabiano could be on his what to the Bernabeu after Real Madrid have found a way of buying the player without negotiating with Sevilla: with GSI owning 65% of the player's registration, the investment company has the right to buy back the remaining 35% from Sevilla for 15 million euros. The investment company can then sell this season's current Pichichi to Madrid for whatever fee they desire and there is nothing that Del Nido would be helpless to stop it, reckons Marca. If we didn't know any better we might think that the Madrid supporting paper was running a campaign to unsettle Sevilla's top goal scorer ahead of the game between the two sides at the weekend.
The paper also brings us the startling revelation that Luis Fernandez, former coach of PSG when Ronaldinho played for the Paris club, has exposed the Brazilian's exploits in a new book and has sensationally claimed that "Ronaldinho used to take girls up to his room." (I know, we couldn't believe it either!)