Mourinho’s ear muffs, Zaragoza’s fear of ghosts and Banega’s tough break

The sign at La Liga Loca’s bus stop showed the temperature in Madrid to be -3 early on Tuesday morning. However, it didn’t feel that cold to the blog, despite the fact that it was wearing its favourite Dalmatian puppy fur-coat and sheepskin ear muffs.

So this is why LLL has no beef with fuss being made in the Madrid media about how chilly it’s going to be in the Russian capital for Tuesday’s Champions League clash between Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow. “It’s freezing!” complained a reporter for Spanish Television channel TVE1.

“Minus six but it will feel like minus 12!” proclaimed AS. “Minus 10 but will feel like minus 15!” yelled Marca.

To be fair to AS, the paper’s editorial does note that the temperatures won’t feel that bad for the footballers. “It will will almost feel bearable after the cold snap we’ve had in Spain” noted editor, Alfredo Relaño. However, you do get the impression that the likes of Marca would prefer it if the Madrid players were wrapped up in scarves, sporting mittens on a piece of string and were being handed cups of hot cocoa during the match by a handy helper with not much else to do. Nuri Sahin perhaps.

Although the cold may make things a little trickier - especially for Iker Casillas - the fact CSKA Moscow have not played a competitive game since December 7 due to the winter break will certainly help the visitors ‘Putin’ a decent performance (awful, just awful - ed). But then again, aside from three Barça games, the standard of opposition in la Liga has been so bad this year that neither has Real Madrid, perhaps.

On the domestic front, the final match of Round 24 of la Liga was completed on Monday evening, with an away win for Betis ending Zaragoza’s mini-revival, which had consisted of one victory. This now leaves Zaragoza at the bottom-of-the-table, 11 points from safety, but manager Manolo Jiménez has more spooky concerns. “Fear and ghosts are dominating us,” revealed the Zaragoza coach after Monday’s defeat.

Ever Banega’s doctor also spoke to the press on Monday to stop any more sniggering over a horrendous, painful and probably quite terrifying accident that saw the Valencia midfielder having his ankle crushed by his own car on Sunday. “It was a break more usual with a motorcyclist than a footballer,” observed Enrique Gastaldi after the hour-and-a-half operation on Banega’s broken ankle, an injury that will see the Argentinean out of action for at least six months.