Boring Barça scrape past Granada as Mourinho house trains his players

Barcelona beat Granada 1-0 on Tuesday night, but you wouldn’t really guess it from the somewhat muted response in Wednesday morning's papers. And as well it might be, as Pep’s Dream Boys were restricted to just a single goal - albeit a magnificent free-kick from Xavi - by a newly-promoted side who played over half an hour with just ten men

Even the Barcelona manager himself admitted his side weren’t all that in Andalusia, with Guardiola grumbling that “we were not fast in our circulation of the ball. We didn’t get into their box enough.”

“It’s like Barça are playing at 50% capacity,” fretted Josep Maria Casanovas writing in Sport. “One goal in two matches is a poor return for a team that has 70% possession of the ball.”

“The spectators should get their money back,” suggests J.M Artells writing in Mundo Deportivo. “The blaugrana were barely recognisable in the first half.”

The chance to prod a disapproving finger into Barça’s belly certainly wasn’t missed in the Spanish capital, with AS editor Alfredo Relaño tutting that “just when Madrid have reached a state of grace, Barça appear to have lost a bit of inspiration, or, if not, luck.

“Xavi against boredom,” moaned the paper’s match report.

Dullness certainly wasn’t the feature of Tuesday’s other match, with Sevilla being held to a 2-2 home draw by the then bottom-of-the-table Racing in a bit of a surprising result. But it’s unlikely the Cantabrians will gain too much pleasure from the point and two goals scored as the match was lost by Racing in injury-time after a header from Manu del Moral rescued Sevilla’s booty

“It’s a shame as it would have been our first win,” sighed Racing boss, Héctor Cúper.

There are six games being played on Wednesday night, headed up by league leaders Levante's home tie with Real Sociedad. With the visitors in a bit of a dodgy spot at the moment, LLL is going to curse the blog’s newfound heroes by predicting a seventh straight win for Levante, who have now picked up 53 points in their last 26 league games. However, there are still some glum faces in the Valencia club’s squad concerning thier eventual fate this season

“Everything will end up going to back to normal,” predicted midfielder Juanlu. “Levante will end up fighting for their lives to survive.”

A win on Wednesday would give Levante 23 points, meaning that the club would only have to find seven more victories in the current campaign to triumph in that eventual struggle to the death at the bottom, so there are some reasons to be cheerful for the 31-year-old.

Rayo Vallecano are looking for their first home win of the season against a Málaga side who are in terrible shape, having conceded seven and scored nowt in their last two games against Levante and Real Madrid. Getafe host Osasuna in what is set to be a dog of a match, while Mallorca will be trying to score a proper goal for once - the team’s last four have been penalties - with the visit of Sporting.

Valencia will enjoy playing away from their currently disgruntled fans against Zaragoza, while Real Madrid will be taking on Villarreal in the Bernabeu in front of their...er...gruntled fans. Interestingly and entertainingly, this is a clash that has given Marca all sorts of trouble.

Because of the paper’s insistence of awarding Cristiano Ronaldo an extra goal last season, to help the Portuguese along the way in their top scorer ‘Pichichi’ prize, Wednesday’s edition gasps that the forward is just a single strike away from his century for Real Madrid. However, a glance at AS shows that Ronaldo is actually two away from scoring a hundred official goals - a record that pretty much everyone else runs with.

Marca’s other dilemma is the news that José Mourinho allowed his players to stay at home rather than in a hotel overnight for a home match, something the players hate doing. Manuel Pellegrini gave into their grumbles during his ill-fated reign and allowed his squad home-leave the night before games at the Bernabeu to huge criticism from Marca, who slammed his 'weak will'.

Golden boy Mourinho doing the same sees Marca having to back peddle a little by publishing the ten rules that the Madrid manager has given to his footballers on the front page - or rather the ten rules that the paper has completely made up to get them out of a tight spot. These apparent laws from above include getting between eight and ten hours sleep and “not going to bed hungry or thirsty.”

The irony is that, although there are many matches in which Madrid will need to be in tip-top form this season, the visit of Villarreal is not one of them. A night on the town, a cheesy burrito and a couple of hours kip would still be enough preparation to beat a team playing abysmally at the moment. LLL wouldn’t bet against at least two members of the side’s fun-lovin’ back five have experienced such a night ahead of Wednesday’s game.

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