Barcelona are back in business

In response to AS cranking up their Barcelona brickingthemselvesometer last weekend, La Liga Loca has decided to give a debut airing to its own fiendishly brilliant contraption, the barçasmugometer.

And after it whirred into life this morning, initial readings from the spinning, steam-punk machine indicate that a remarkable 10,000 smarms is radiating from the Camp Nou club after Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Inter Milan.

For those unfamiliar with the scale, that’s somewhere in between “all our players are organic and home-grown” and “you know that we don’t have sponsors don’t you, mmmm?”

Historically speaking, the barçasmugometer is unlikely to reach the incredible levels seen at the end of last season when the Treble saw the reaction turn to “if you say one more thing about how great Barça are, I will beat you and your family to death with a stale chorizo.”

Sport led the way with Wednesday’s post-partido cheerleading and a headline boasting that the victory over José Mourinho’s men was “a strike from a champion.”

“Winning without Messi and Ibra has double value. It’s a way of telling the dressing room that unity makes you strong,” scribbles Josep María Casanovas in a happy-clappy column.

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Joan Vehils turns his antagonising attentions to insulting Barça’s under-performing Italian opponents by noting that Mad Sammy Eto’o was “lost in the tactical ineptitude and inefficiency of Mourinho,” a manager that La Liga Loca suspects will be spending the next few months in the quiet corner after being comprehensively trounced by Piqué and Pedro.

However, the Portuguese coach did try to dig himself out of his Champions League hole a little by smart-arsing that “a team without pride would have lost by three or four goals.”

Over in Mundo Deportivo-land, opinion-forming frontman Santi Nolla argues that He Who Should Never Be Doubted (La Liga Loca’s pet name for Pep) possesses “a team with confidence in itself, that’s motivated, with players who feel important and two stars who will be fresh for the big match.”

As the Madrid papers tend to be considerably kinder to Barcelona than the somewhat insecure Catalan press is to the Castle Greyskull club in return, AS sees Tuesday’s victory for Pep’s Dream Boys as “the response from champions,” while Marca fawn over “an exhibition from a spectacular Barcelona.”

However, their main preoccupation is the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is predicted by both main papers to feature in Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Zurich for about half an hour.

“I’m OK!” says the ankle-knacked Paris-poker on the front cover of Marca, who also report that Raúl is set to start in Karim Benzema’s place “unless Pellegrini changes his mind after reading the paper” - a banner referencing an article pointing out that Real Madrid are even more hopeless than normal with the club captain chugging around the playing field.

The Champions League tie is set to be number 100 for Iker Casillas, who is asked in AS which players have caused him the most problems over the years in the competition.

“Elber and Van Nistelrooy,” said the Madrid goalie. “But no one, these days, as we never get past the last 16.”

Atlético Madrid are also in action in Cyprus against APOEL - the latest in a long line of clubs who are gleefully delivering kicks to the goolies of the Vicente Calderón comedy club.

Seeing as Quique’s men cannot qualify for the next round and don’t really have a squad good enough for la Primera, never mind that Europa League business, AS's Manuel Esteban feels that the “best thing that could happen is to lose.”

Atleti being Atleti, expect a 6-0 win for the relegation-threatened club and even more ball-bruising batterings from Europe’s fourth-tier clubs in the months to come.

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