Enrique bites back as Bale suffers Tiger Woods syndrome

There’s midweek La Liga action as the title race hots up – and all three of its managerial protagonists were in fine form in front of the media...

For once in its downtrodden, low-brow life, La Liga Loca is going to attempt a cinema reference. It may fail. But the three press conferences of the Primera managers in the bust-up for the title should have been broadcast with some kind of three-box, montage-type thing on Tuesday. Like in Ocean’s Eleven, or something fancy like that.

All were hugely rewarding to dip into, and the characters involved played up to every stereotype that the blog likes to entertain. Especially Luis Enrique, whose Barcelona team is currently embroiled in the biggest crisis that they’ve seen since the last really big crisis just over a year ago.

That might as well be the Middle Ages for some in the Spanish football fraternity who possess limited memory spans. Leo Messi on the bench anyone? Missing training? Sporting director sacked? Carles Puyol quitting? Luis Enrique to be replaced by Frank Rijkaard?

Lionel Messi

Messi on the bench: it did happen

Enrique the masochist

It could by my Gijón genes, but I love this rhythm and adversity. I enjoy it more

- Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique appeared to be in fine fettle ahead of the trip to Deportivo – the fettle of a manager who suspects his team are going to be just fine in Galicia despite three defeats in a row.

Or the Barça boss was simply too mentally exhausted by the whole taxing experience – no pun intended – of being the Catalans’ boss.

Indeed, the feisty Spaniard claimed that he positively loved the bad times for Barcelona, perhaps because they don’t come along too often. “It could by my Gijón genes, but I love this rhythm and adversity. I enjoy it more.”

Luis Enrique

Enrique took no nonsense in his latest presser

When asked if he felt he was a little short on Sunday with a journalist who questioned his team’s physical fitness, the response was pretty much a punk-like middle finger in return. Admirable indeed, and the kind of stuff that the blog likes to imagine it would do if it were ever given any kind of responsibility.

Unhappy Gilmore

Over in Mordor, Zinedine Zidane still gave the impression of someone who is not entirely sure how he became Real Madrid manager, never mind ended up in a position where his team could still win both La Liga and the Champions League.

The thorniest issue for the Frenchman ahead of his tough visit of Villarreal was how Gareth Bale picked up a back injury that means the Welshman will miss the rather important match.

#halamadrid

A photo posted by Gareth Bale (@garethbale11) on

Reports in the press suggest that he was doing a Tiger Woods while attending the Spanish Open on Sunday. No, not that kind of Tiger Woods activity, but playing far too much golf – 36 holes apparently.

No bueno. “I don’t know if he played golf or not, I don’t think so,” shrugged Zizou.

Daring Diego

And then there was Diego Simeone: glowering, intense, brooding and still banging on about taking one game as it comes. And for good reason: it’s an approach that seems to have worked over the past four years.

Out of the three teams at the top it’s Atlético Madrid that have the toughest test of all on Wednesday, with a trip to take on Athletic Bilbao in San Mamés.

But nothing seems to be beyond the mighty Rojiblancos these days. “We don’t depend on anyone,” growled the Argentine, “we depend on ourselves.”

Despite highfalutin cinema references, LLL is not going to show any more insight into what Wednesday night shakedowns might hit La Liga. But it’s going to be an absolute hoot, with only one winner. Unless there are three. Or two. Or none.

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