Mourinho struggles with his bullets as Villarreal prepare to get a bit cheeky
The challenge facing MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs graphics department on Monday was a significant one. They were required to take photographs of six Real Madrid players and squeeze them onto the shells of six bullets. And they failed.
Instead of looking like deadly ammunition-shaped assassins, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo HiguaÃÂn, Mesut ÃÂzil, Cristiano Ronaldo, KakÃÂ¡ and Angel di MarÃÂa looked like a cross between Humpty Dumpty and the Vogons from a Ã¢ÂÂHitchhikers Guide to the GalaxyÃ¢ÂÂ - something Benzema already manages without the need for Photoshop trickery.
Marca was attempting to point out that JosÃÂ© Mourinho had a difficult job squeezing his six Ã¢ÂÂbulletsÃ¢ÂÂ into four positions out on the pitch, and that some tough decisions would have to be made ahead of TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League clash with Lyon.
The Madrid manager seemed less than impressed by MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs imagery at MondayÃ¢ÂÂs press conference. Ã¢ÂÂNow I have six bullets but 15 days ago we had no goals, HiguaÃÂn and Benzema were bad and it was Ã¢ÂÂwhy didnÃ¢ÂÂt we sign AgÃÂ¼ero?Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ, scoffed the eye-poking Portuguese. Mourinho is under the impression the Spanish media is out to get him by causing divisions between those squatting in the Benzema camp and those found of a bit of HiguaÃÂn action. And yes, there are actual camps. Ã¢ÂÂThese are your debates, not mine. Your objectives are different. Mine is to unite, not divide,Ã¢ÂÂ slammed Mourinho.
With everything in la Liga being political, especially in the press, the pro-Benzema brigade tend to be aligned with Florentino PÃÂ©rez and will always dislike HiguaÃÂn for being more popular with the fans than the Frenchman, for being signed by RamÃÂ³n CalderÃÂ³n and for supposedly being a big team bottler who only bangs in his hat-tricks against the minnows. The HiguaÃÂn massive feel that Benzema is a lazy bum who will be forever be protected by PÃÂ©rez with the Frenchman being a very personal signing by the Madrid president.
Whoever starts up front - and out wide - for Madrid in the Champions League should be more than enough to see off Lyon, with Mourinho admitting he is demanding two victories in the back-to-back matches with the French side to win the group as early as possible and rest players for the final games in preparation for the December ClÃÂ¡sico clash.
An infinitely more interesting game is taking place in the northwest of England with the current group A dunces, Manchester City and Villarreal, facing off in a game both teams need to win. The odds are stacked against the Spanish visitors, given they are in dreadfully poor form having only managed the one victory in la Liga.
But Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido is nothing but positive ahead of the game. Ã¢ÂÂNobody makes us favourites and weÃ¢ÂÂll try and to play with impudence and daring.Ã¢ÂÂ
That cheek and daring looks set to involve Villarreal lining up with five central midfielders - which must be some kind of record - with Cani, Jonathan de Guzman, Borja Valero, Bruno and Carlos Marchena all squeezed in behind Giuseppe Rossi up front.
With Villarreal set to be narrower than JesÃÂºs NavasÃ¢ÂÂs traveling horizons, Tuesday nightÃ¢ÂÂs clash should be an easy peasy one for Roberto ManciniÃ¢ÂÂs men.