It's Pep vs Piqué, says Madrid; Yellow Submarine still sinking

Apart from sporting a new natty haircut, one of the most noticeable aspects of José Mourinho over the past couple of weeks has been the Madrid manager’s rather generous way of praising the opposition – namely Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis.

Oddly generous about the quality of football and steely attitude of the opposition players, the Portuguese has also taken time to gush profusely about the noise and passion of the home support. Indeed, after the 1-0 win in Vallecas Mourinho even gave them a quick clap.

As LLL has joined in the local hobby of interpreting every utterance or gesture from Mourinho at least 15 times for hidden meanings, the blog is quite sure that the Madrid coach is continuing his campaign to try and develop something that may be beyond his admirable powers – the creation of an atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu.

That campaign continues ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow with the release of a promotional video starring Real Madrid players all giving it the Delia Smith “let’s be ‘aving ya!” vibe. The clip is set to be played in the Santiago Bernabeu before kick-off – probably at ear-splitting volume, knowing the insane strength of the club’s PA system, which the blog is sure can be heard from the moon.

“I want you to be my hands,” says Iker Casillas (while his face clearly says "Really? My contract says I HAVE to do this?"). “I want you to be my feet,” demands Xabi Alonso. “I want you to be my magic,” is Marcelo's must-do whilst Pepe says something about “noise, support us, you better, knee caps, ankles, waiting for you outside.”

In a week without football at the Camp Nou, Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo returns to the  good old referees-favouring-Real-Madrid conspiracy. Meanwhile, Sport recycles a story from capital-city TV station Telemadrid – which is quite, quite abysmal, incidentally – that Pep Guardiola's contract renewal is dependent on the sale of Gerard Piqué, the coach apparently having lost his "feeling" with the defender.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell denied the story completely on Monday, blasting “public media who, with public money and taxes from their citizens, are dedicating themselves to giving information which is untrue, without foundation and completely false.”

Back in Sport's pages, Joan Vehils senses the forces of Mordor behind the story, linking it to other media outlets to demonstrate what the Camp Nou collective perceive to be organised hostility from the capital collective. Telemadrid is “a public TV channel whose head is a good friend of the Madrid president. Pure chance or not, but at [radio station] COPE and [TV show] Punto Pelota there are friends of Florentino Pérez as well.”

Tucked away in the football news for Tuesday is some actual... well... football news. Villarreal’s problems increased with a 2-1 home defeat to Getafe, whose Monday-night travelling performances are normally wetter than a kipper in a monsoon.

After a defeat including a missed penalty from Borja Valero, Villarreal are fourth from bottom and with just the single point from the last four games. “I can understand that people are upset and I accept this,” admitted coach José Molina, who must be very concerned indeed about his own future and that of a club in desperate trouble. 

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