Barça's late show, Titi's wheels & Karim's plan

If there’s a reason why La Liga Loca is feeling especially cranky and crazed, today, it’s because it was up until the ungodly hour of MIDNIGHT watching Xerez and Barcelona hoof the ball about an athletics track for an hour-and-a-half before all going home.

As part of the game in Spain’s ongoing campaign to make the car-driving commuters of the land even blearier and beepier than normal of a morning, Wednesday’s squeezed-in encounter between the two sides bookending la Primera began at 10 frackin’ pm.

And if anyone out there feels that this is just the blog having yet another moan and groan and refusing to do in Rome what the Romans do, then they’d be quite right to.

But bear in mind that Pep is with La Liga Loca all the way. And Pep is The Truth.

“There are problems with recovering the next day and maintaining the right eating habits,” complained the Don of the Dream Boys, who would have got back to the Catalan capital around 4am on Thursday before having to prepare his players for their doom-laden date with Deportivo on Saturday night.

The trip to Xerez was Barcelona’s Round 15 encounter, moved forward a couple of weeks to accommodate the club’s match-up with New Zealand’s finest in the World Club Championship at the end of the month.

And the combination of a god-awful pitch and an opposition side who offered as much threat to Barça’s goal as Maniche does to a salad meant that the Wednesday wash-out was a scrappy affair and not sealed until the final moments with Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbing the Catalan club’s second of the night.

However, the under-par performance from the league leaders has done nothing to dampen the giddy spirits of the local press, with Sport boasting that “this Barcelona has the solution for everything.”

“They played a practical game,” sighed Catalan columnist Josep María Casanovas.

Mundo Deportivo refer to Thierry Henry’s opener – celebrated in such a petulant, sulky style that it made you want to repeatedly run the Frenchman over in a 2CV – by praising the “hand of a saint.”

“Against the evident limitations of Ziganda’s team, there was no football, no good play,” shrugged Josep Artells, whose overall vibe is relief rather than rapture.

While the Barcelona papers have had beating Real Madrid, Xerez and Leo Messi’s magic week to pore over, the Madridista press has had nothing. Zip. Nada. Rien.

And this is precisely why Thursday’s AS leads with the completely ludicrous, probably bulls**t, but tremendously homoerotic story that Cristiano Ronaldo does 3000 abdominal scrunches a day.

“Superman Cristiano!” screams the headline on the front page with the article panting that how to have the body of Cristiano Ronaldo is “one of the most asked questions on the internet” (although a La Liga Loca colleague adds “where can I see Rachel Stevens naked?”).

Still, better than Wednesday’s effort from AS, which boasted that Real Madrid have “activated an adaption plan” for Karim Benzema to help him out of his current French funk – which peaked in the early hours of Monday morning when the misfiring forward displayed the same accuracy with his shots as his driving.

The eggheads at Castle Greyskull have decided it might help to get Benzema out of the hotel he has been living in since his arrival from Lyon, and arrange for some Spanish language classes.

Benzema has been with the club for five months.

The benefits of the language lessons, explain the paper, are that he can speak to his colleagues, join in with the jokes being made at the expense of his expanding girth and – best of all – “understand tactical instructions” from Manuel Pellegrini.

The blog wonders how hard it can be to understand the words  “price,” “35 million,” “hopeless,” “donkey,” “Negredo,” and “better.”

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