Liverpool set to go ghostbusting

Being a Real Madrid player means that most of your waking days will involve being pestered by the press on urgent matters such as the greatness of Raúl and whether the club can still win the league. Or, if you are a media-whoring Iker Casillas, appearing on every single TV advert in Spain. In fact, the situation is so silly that even when a player has popped his footballing clogs, he won’t be left to rest in peace, not for the merest minute. La Liga Loca is convinced that Alfredo di Stefano died a good six years ago and the Castle Greyskull club are using an animatronic version of the nation-changing champ when superstars such as Julien Faubert are presented.

They even appear to have splashed out this season, and added a new dribble feature to the octogenarian android.

"HELP! Does anyone have any spare AA batteries?"

Another very ex-Madridista is Juanito, a footballer who was killed in a car crash in 1992 but who remains a famous face due to his knack of inspiring comebacks in big European nights of the past.

The problem now is that Marca and co are summoning his very restless spirit every time Madrid find themselves in a spot of bother.And considering the club has had as much success in cups as a nearsighted sperm donor in recent years, poor old Juanito has been jammed on to the front covers when Madrid have had to come from behind against the likes of Bayern, Roma, Arsenal, Betis, Juventus, Cheltenham Town, Zaragoza, Real Union....But as Juanito’s ghostly presence has been as much use to the Madridista cause as Guti on these various occasions, one would have thought that a different tactic may have been adopted ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Liverpool. But no, there’s the wispy figure of Juanito on the front cover of Marca on Tuesday.

And on page 4. And page 6, being cradled by Iker Casillas (his photo, of course). And in the daily’s editorial. “The spirit of Juanito should be summoned in situations like this.”

Juanito dances through the Limerick United defence, of course

The only conclusion to be made is that the local press have little faith in the current crop of players’ ability to pull back the 1-0 deficit at Anfield. And considering their general uselessness in the first leg against Liverpool, it’s a fair assumption.

But this hasn’t stopped the papers pom-pom’ing away on Tuesday in the biggest bout of cheerleading since Maniche hired the Lakers Girls for a get-together. “This is Anfield, so what!” says a fate-tempting Marca. “All for one!” screams AS, who have despatched Tomás Roncero to Liverpool to witness “the greatest night in Europe since Zidane won the Ninth in Glasgow.” Sadly, his paper’s readers do not share Roncero’s optimism with 63 percent predicting Madrid to fail in the final 16 stage for the fifth year in a row.Marca’s Roberto Gómez has failed, once again, to summon an opinion of his own so has gone into default mode by parroting what Vicente Boluda believes. Having visited the Beatles museum, Madrid’s very own Fool on the Hill apparently declared “I am convinced that we are going to win” - a slight downgrade from his prediction a fortnight ago that his side would spuzz all over their Scouse opponents. Tuesday’s Juanito-based, grand-standing approach to the match from the Madridista press was completely predictable. And it is set to be the same on Wednesday whatever the outcome of the game. A victory for Madrid would see the Bernabeu side as clear favourites to win the blinking trophy and the greatest club on the planet. Ever. A defeat, and a whole week of bellybutton fluff-inspecting can be expected on the sorry state of the game in Spain.

And discussions on the greatness of Raúl, of course.

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