Mou given warm homecoming as Pep's boys struggle away again

The Barcelona players are single-handedly destroying the notion that footballers are more than comfortable playing away from home, as it has been almost a year since Pep’s Dream Boys managed to get their metaphorical legs over by winning on their travels in the Champions League.

Like Maniche’s neighbour on a long-haul flight, Barça have been left in a very uncomfortable position by only squeezing a 1-1 draw against FC Copenhagen, a result that sees the Catalan club having to take their fifth round Panathinaikos clash a little more seriously than they would have hoped some three days before El Clásico. Or four days. Or maybe even five.

That’s because the date of arguably the world’s biggest clash after the East Anglian derby has yet to be set and won’t be for another two weeks with the man in charge of scheduling the fixture arguing that he didn’t want to ‘cause speculation’.

But then again, at time of writing, the dates of the second leg of the current Copa del Rey round are still up in the air and they are due to take place next week. LLL suspects that it may be a new wheeze invented by those in charge of the game in Spain where fans simply turn up at a stadium every evening on the off chance that a match is on.

The frustration of a second away draw for Barcelona in group D saw Pep Guardiola going quite postal after the clash by confronting Copenhagen coach, Stale Solbakken, after comments he felt were bang out of order in regards to the two match UEFA suspension given to José Manuel Pinto over his efforts to impersonate the referee in the Camp Nou tie a fortnight ago.

“I’ve never called for a sanction for any player,” grumped Guardiola after the game overlooking the one hour treatise given to journalists on what he would like to do to Tomás Ujfalusi after his tackle on Leo Messi at the Vicente Calderón.

Solbakken gamely took the blame for the whole handbags affair by admitting that “I don’t think he understood what I was saying. I made a Norwegian joke, a bad one but it was a joke.”

Valencia had a considerably easier time that the players, manager and even LLL expected in Mestalla on Tuesday night with a snug, comfy 3-0 win against a Rangers side that came into the game as Andy Murray-style, plucky British hopefuls, but left with their sporrans between their legs as Scottish losers.

“They deserved to win,” said Walter Smith whilst Unai Emery mused that the victory for his suffering side would “restore a bit of our self confidence.”

Spain’s third Champions League challengers, Real Madrid, are in action on Wednesday night and going for their first every victory in San Siro and just their fifth in Italy in European competition.

Both AS and Marca have continued their big man-love of José Mourinho with the former getting hold of scraps of paper used by the Madrid manager during the Hércules clash and treating them like relics. “He takes notes during games!” was the gist of the gasping revelation from Tuesday’s edition.

What one page of the discarded notepad did reveal was that Mourinho had been calculating the number of games left in the season - possibly as a countdown to when The Special One can escape for the marginally less insane surroundings of Old Trafford.

Marca are alternating their editions between sweaty adoration of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho, leading LLL to wonder that if the editor could spent the night with just one of the pair and a tub of marmalade, who would it be? It’s la Liga’s version of the ‘when would you do Jim?’ pub debate over the hypothetical scenario of 24 hours, a hotel room and The Coors.

Wednesday’s is a José adoration day, with the front cover using a banner held by an Inter fan saying that Mourinho had given the city an ‘Orgasmou’. “He was welcomed like a hero,” panted the paper over his arrival in the Italian city ahead of Wednesday’s clash.

LLL doesn’t even want to imagine the stickiness that will ensue in the offices of both big papers should Real Madrid master Milan on Wednesday night - something the blog thinks is a distinct possibility.