Kaká resurrected as Mata returns to Mestalla as ‘the enemy’

In a way, the Madrid press are like ratings-hungry soap opera writers. They love nothing more than killing off footballers 'for good', only to then bring them back to life in an improbable fashion.

The latest player to make a miraculous return is Kaká, who like team-mate Karim Benzema before him has been buried, dug up, prodded with sticks and declared to be “alive!” Dr. Frankenstein-style after an impressive showing and a goal in Tuesday’s 3-0 Champions League win over Ajax.

“Kaká at last!” screams the front cover of AS, with Tomás Roncero declaring that “Kaká is back again.” Even the paper’s editor, Alfredo Relaño, muses over “one step more in his rehabilitation and his credibility.”

La Liga Loca tends to assess the victory that gives Madrid six points from six in the same manner as Marca, who fuss about the side’s “three blows to the jaw.” The first 20 minutes saw Ajax looking very comfortable indeed with their fancy, Dutch, passing football ways.

But then a wonderful sweeping move put Real Madrid into a 1-0 lead, and helped kill off the opposition threat. It was the kind of goal Ajax manager, Frank de Boer, had feared before the match, but as the Amsterdam club’s Icelandic striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson told LLL, there wasn’t too much that could be done about it.

“They are so quick and can play one touch across the whole pitch. We had to take care when we had corners but they showed they have quality and are really good on the counter. We’re disappointed they scored almost three goals on the counter-attack, it’s something we really wanted to stop before the match.”

AS also warn that Real Madrid fans should not get too excited with the pleasing end-to-end stylings of the team as deployed against the very offensive-minded Rayo and Ajax, as “they will have rivals again that close up like Racing and Levante and it will not be so easy.”

Villarreal had another tough night with a second defeat in their Champions League group. The 2-0 loss to Napoli in Italy saw some rather slack defending to allow Marek Hamsik to take the lead after 15 minutes. But that was nothing compared to the very, very, very slack defending and rampantly generous donating of the ball to Napoli that resulted in a penalty to the Italians, duly converted by Edinson Cavani.

“It was two presents, two accidents that made the game,” complained Villarreal boss, Juan Carlos Garrido.

Pep’s Dream Boys are in the workers paradise of Belarus to face BATE, but the dominant theme of the pre-match build-up is not how Barcelona are going to get round the tractor that will probably be parked in front of their goal, but more rumblings over Guardiola’s public support of former club president, Joan Laporta.

“I’m aware, I’m 40 and left home at 13,” was the reminder from Guardiola to both his mother asking as to the cleanliness of his underpants and the Spanish press pack on the repercussions of his comments. “I know what I said and what could happen," he added.

“I’m a friend of both...I think Laporta and Rosell are two sides of the same coin,” explained the Barça coach, denying that a damaging rift had been opened between his current and former bosses.

While Barcelona’s trip to the former Eastern Bloc is somewhat of a curiosity, the really tasty action on Wednesday is to be found in Mestalla, where Juan Mata will return with spanking new club, Chelsea. However there will be no warm hand on the forward’s entrance, at least according to Valencia manager Unai Emery. “Any player dressed in blue is our enemy,” growled the Los Che coach.

The other notable duel on the Spanish east coast is that pitting Fernando Torres against Roberto Soldado to see which striker can miss the most sitters and do the most to make it a good night for Alvaro Negredo in the battle to be David Villa’s number two for la Furia Roja.

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