There's trouble in the Bernabeu air, writes Tim Stannard...
It's as if a fine friend in their mid-thirties has started sporting a hat permanently affixed to their head.
Supermarket, pub, train, Alton Towers trip – always with the hat. You sort of want to applaud them on the brave life decision, but also give a gentle note of advice that their drastic personal rebranding may not be right in that particular case.
U2's Edge can only get away with the hat because he was probably wearing one from the age of two. No one else can.
LLL is a huge supporter of Real Madrid’s renewed carefree approach to football, which saw a dull, almost Soviet-like approach to the game from the first half of the season abandoned in favour a more vibrant, unpredictable style. For once, supporters are getting their money’s worth rather than conformist, plodding wins against Elche.
However, as Carlo Ancelotti pointed out after the home defeat to Schalke: “We are not going to get very far playing like that.” That point is quite relevant with the Clásico just around the corner and Madrid still somehow in the Champions League after their 3-4 home humbling against Schalke on Tuesday night.
The Bernabéu crowd are also in agreement with the Italian coach, with the residents of Mordor not exactly digging the new vibe and booing their side off the field.
Even Cristiano Ronaldo is bucking the new trend, apparently. “This is a disgrace,” was a comment to Karim Benzema picked up towards the end of the match. Indeed, it was so bad that Iker Casillas had to divert Ronaldo to the dressing room and take furious flak from the crowd at the end of the game.
Marca branded the performance against the Bundesliga outfit as “pathetic” while über-Madridista Tomás Roncero shrieked at a “horror show”. “Tomás! Wake up!” was the instruction he yelled at himself.
As ever in the eternal rivalry – and it really will carry on during and beyond the time that robot vacuum cleaners enslave us all – the Barcelona press could not be happier if the UN had given them an award for being the most special in the world, ever.
“A shameful Madrid!” yelled Wednesday’s edition of Sport. “The face of Florentino after the game was a picture,” notes Joan Vehils, although in defence of the Real Madrid president, Pérez always looks like a baby has barfed over his Death Ray Pin Sat control desk.
Big Two crises are always brilliant entertainment for the outsider, whether it be Barça losing another legal battle or Madrid’s BBC losing its license. La Liga needs them.
The alternative is allowing Atlético to win the title again to spice things up. This particular one from Real Madrid is certainly in the all-time Top 50 and an improvement on the relentlessly efficient side of last year. The new look is a bold one for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, but it may need a little bit of tweaking.