There's lots to keep Tim Stannard busy in La Liga Land...
Wednesday started in a fairly normal fashion for La Liga Loca. Starbuck the dog did her normal five-minute walk-wiggle before finding the right place to pee. The blog congratulated itself for inventing the concept of the text-toot: the act of informing the car in front that the traffic lights had changed and it was time to look up from the small white screen of despair. But by the end of the hump of the week, Gary Neville was Valencia manager and Real Madrid were pretty much eliminated from the Copa del Rey before the first kick in Cadiz. Even for the weird and wonderful world of La Liga, the day was a bit odd.
Real Madrid have a pulled off a corker by apparently fielding an ineligible player in Wednesday night’s Copa del Rey clash against Cádiz, a crime set to be met with elimination from the competition.
Denis Cheryshev, who scored the opener, was supposed to be suspended after picking up three yellow cards in last year’s competition at Villarreal. The story filtered through early in the first half of what became a 3-1 victory for Madrid, the news causing the Cádiz crowd to sing “Benítez, look at your Twitter!”
Emilio Butragueño, the club’s director of institutional relations, claimed after the match that they were never told about the suspension – not a great defence, as AS claims they were faxed on July 27 – and retorted that Real Madrid are “never ridiculous,” as a reporter suggested. Indeed, Athletic Bilbao did not field Raúl García for the same reason – a suspension picked up at former club Atlético Madrid.
“Madrid isn’t a football club. It’s about the VIP area and marketing”
Thursday’s press tends to disagree with Butragueño’s contention. AS director Alfredo Relaño scoffs that “Madrid isn’t a football club. It’s about the VIP area and marketing… All this isn’t strange for a club with no technical structure.”
Marca tried their best to side with the Madridista cause by finding a columnist to blame the Spanish FA instead. “One thing that should be done before any game is to warn everyone about suspended players,” writes José Vicente Hernáez.
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The Barcelona papers were completely sympathetic. “You feel that these are the only things that can happen in Madrid,” writes Sport’s Lluís Miguelsanz, who compares the club to a surrealist Italian comedy film. “This ‘superior being’ is accumulating a series of episodes which has put the club in a bad place where it didn’t used to be,” notes Mundo Deportivo’s Francesc Aguilar.
On Thursday morning, Cádiz made a formal complaint to the Spanish FA while quietly noting that it was nothing personal to Real Madrid. The Bernabéu outfit have until the afternoon to make their defence. But the only action from Florentino Pérez might well be another sacking – this time, the expulsion of the fax machine that failed to sign David de Gea and has now potentially kicked the club out of the Copa del Rey.