It’s the European Super Cup! Grr! Bah! Our Spanish expert Tim Stannard looks ahead to the continental Community Shield between Real Madrid and Sevilla...
See Cristiano Ronaldo twizzle and feint! Watch James Rodríguez rampage and swirl! Observe Unai Emery squatting above some Cardiff turf - and not while doing something unmentionably unpleasant, caught on a CCTV camera and replayed by Channel 5 to a laughter track!
This year, the event has been moved away from the tranquil and traditionally empty and desolate surroundings of Monaco to the vim-filled Valleys and the game between the Champions League and Europa League holders is a super-Spanish affair.
There are oodles of talking points to cover, from Gareth Bale’s homecoming to Carlo Ancelotti subverting early Ossie Ardiles with a 0-10-0 formation.
However, it is only the world of Iker Casillas that truly piques LLL’s limited interest ahead of this clash. The blog was pondering whether or not the Real Madrid stopper would personally have driven Diego López to the airport for his former challenger’s move to AC Milan, had the goalkeeper not been required in Wales on Monday evening or been busy making mean Paddington Bear eyes at his new Costa Rican rival, Keylor Navas.
There is certainly a bit of tension in the training camp between the club captain and Alvaro Arbeloa, a nark that has been running ever since the days of José Mourinho when the full-back was clearly in the Portuguese camp, with Casillas very much on the outside looking in. Indeed, there will be some fine books on all that kerfuffle one day. If a publisher is interested, for a huge advance.
The latest spat occurred last week when the right-back used social media to promote a Madridista guide, apparently without realising that the tome suggested Saint Iker was a cancer within the club. “I made the mistake of retweeting the guide without reading letter-by-letter the whole 98 pages,” explained Arbeloa, possibly while avoiding eye contact. “I apologise to my team-mates and captain, Iker Casillas, and to all Madridistas that may have been offended."
Casillas himself was put before the press on Monday night in Wales, and admitted that not all was rosy in his garden. “I have not been at my best in my last games for Madrid and Spain, but I have had worse moments in my sporting life. I have analysed those and learned from them.”
LLL, like anyone else, doesn’t want to see anyone too down in the dumps for too long, so the blog hopes that the Madrid man reads the loving advice of Mad Tomás Roncero in Tuesday’s AS: “Get back your smile. Look in the mirror, contemplate with pride the captain’s armband and remember how many people have always believed in you. Banish the ghosts from your head. Iker, you have to get back to being Iker.”
As much as LLL would enjoy watching Unai Emery going potty (not in the aforementioned sense) on the Cardiff pitch, seeing a small tear of joy trickling down the AS man’s face is quite the incentive to hope for a Real Madrid win.