Describing SpainÃ¢ÂÂs sports press as a little bit myopic would be like accusing Nelson of having a slight squint. Biased aint the half of it.
Everything, but everything, gets seen through the mediaÃ¢ÂÂs very own special club-coloured kaleidoscope, evidence twisted and squeezed and hammered into shape to fit the conclusions, to tally with the latest 'weÃ¢ÂÂre great' posturing, 'weÃ¢ÂÂre robbed' whinging or 'everyone else is rubbish' crowing. Worse still, it then gets greedily gobbled up and regurgitated, like the GodÃ¢ÂÂs honest gospel truth (although, as a screaming atheist, La Liga LocaÃ¢ÂÂs not really sure it should be using that phase). Further evidence that Madrid are great and BarÃÂ§a are rubbish, or vice-versa.
And woe betide anyone who contradicts them - cheats and liars, conspirators and dodgy characters, the lot of them. What do you mean the world aint flat and Guti aint great!?! Witch! Burn the heretic! The earth doesnÃ¢ÂÂt go round the sun, it goes round Leo Messi!
None of us are in the top 10?! DIE INFIDELS...
Even the stuff thatÃ¢ÂÂs got nothing to do with Real Madrid and Barcelona is all about Real Madrid and Barcelona. Even the national team.
There used to be rumours that national coaches deliberately picked the same number of players from each club just to avoid trouble. (These days, of course, they pick them from Liverpool instead.)
SpainÃ¢ÂÂs superb start at the 2006 World Cup was, said Sport, down to the fact that they adopted Ã¢ÂÂthe Barcelona modelÃ¢ÂÂ - the 2002 World Cup was, said AS, Ã¢ÂÂMadridÃ¢ÂÂs tournament.Ã¢ÂÂ (And La Liga Loca makes no apology for delving into its archives and pulling out this particular gem.) Ã¢ÂÂThe World Cup has been seduced by White Magic,Ã¢ÂÂ rambled TomÃÂ¡s Roncero, just before it all went horribly wrong over in Korea. Ã¢ÂÂReal have taken control of the Fevernova and the land of fantasy cartoons. The World Cup has turned white, thanks to Real Madrid, whose myth extends beyond that apotheostic final in Glasgow. The machine never stops. Raul, el Moro and Hierro have five goals, proving the pride these Three Musketeers have in defending the national honour.Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs obvious France without Zidane just canÃ¢ÂÂt perform,Ã¢ÂÂ he continued as the men in white coats dragged him into the back of a padded van. Ã¢ÂÂFigoÃ¢ÂÂs injured and Portugal are going out. Roberto Carlos, meanwhile, scores goals and goes on and on like the Duracell Bunny. Then thereÃ¢ÂÂs Geremi, who will [Will he? Will he really, TomÃÂ¡s? LLL] bury Kahn. Oh glory of glories! The world bows down before the White Prince!Ã¢ÂÂ By Ã¢ÂÂworldÃ¢ÂÂ what Roncero really meant of course was Ã¢ÂÂme.Ã¢ÂÂ But while howling mad TomÃÂ¡s might be the most mental of mentalists heÃ¢ÂÂs not alone Ã¢ÂÂ as this summer has proven yet again. Especially when it comes to the seasonÃ¢ÂÂs awards.Now, weÃ¢ÂÂre not talking about the Alfredo Di StÃÂ©fano Spanish Player of the Year trophy (as given to the best Madrid player whoÃ¢ÂÂs Spanish and whose first name begins with R, not including Robinho and Ruud or, just to be on the safe side, Royston).
No siree Bob, weÃ¢ÂÂre talking about the big ones: the FIFA World Player award and, most importantly of all, the BalÃÂ³n dÃ¢ÂÂOr Ã¢ÂÂ the trophy the Madrid press still angrily insists was robbed from RaÃÂºl by Lickle Mikey Owen back in 2002.
Lickle Mikey Owen with the trophy he robbed from RaÃÂºl
Never mind that Cristiano Ronaldo is going to win them both, or that heÃ¢ÂÂs currently on a whistle stop, ever-so-humble tour of the worlds media to make absolutely sure that he does, the men who really deserve to win it are obvious, making a mockery of that momentary insistence that when it comes to the selecciÃÂ³n weÃ¢ÂÂre all in it together.
The BalÃÂ³n dÃ¢ÂÂOr has to be for our boy. And anyone who says it aint so deserves a slapping and a burning. Or a throwing in a river to see if they float. Marca and AS think that Iker Casillas should win it. DonÃ¢ÂÂt just think, insist. After all, he did brilliantly lead Real Madrid to the title and captain Spain to the European Championships. Even though during the tournament, penalty heroics aside, he actually didnÃ¢ÂÂt have a great deal to do. Sport and El Mundo Deportivo reckoned Xavi HernÃÂ¡ndez should get it, having been voted the player of the tournament. Even though his league season was little short of disastrous. And then they started going on about Leo Messi getting it. Even though, brilliant though he is, his season actually yielded precious little, what with injuries and that. Then they got all upset when AndrÃÂ©s Iniesta wasnÃ¢ÂÂt on the short list. Just as in Madrid they didnÃ¢ÂÂt get all upset when Sergio Ramos Ã¢ÂÂ the one Spanish disappointment at the Euros - was. Funnily enough, no one backed David Villa, even though he was Euro 2008Ã¢ÂÂs top scorer. Or Marcos Senna (the ugly half of La Liga LocaÃ¢ÂÂs particular favourite right now), even though he led Villarreal to a first ever runners-up spot, had the best average rating in the league and was, in ugly La Liga LocaÃ¢ÂÂs humble opinion, the best player at the European Championships.
Or Cesc Fabregas. Even though he was brilliant at Euro 2008 and a real leader at Arsenal. Or Fernando Torres. Even though he scored the winning goal in the final and hit 33 in his debut season in England, making him the most successful foreign striker ever. ArenÃ¢ÂÂt they Spanish too? Yes (well, no, in SennaÃ¢ÂÂs case). But thereÃ¢ÂÂs Spanish and thereÃ¢ÂÂs Barcelona or Madrid. No wonder Torres complained that there was a campaign. Because there was. There is. So, it was no wonder that Sport Ã¢ÂÂ who weÃ¢ÂÂll let off because they kindly called FourFourTwo Ã¢ÂÂexcellentÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ picked up on the best 100 players in the world list this morning to highlight the fact that Leo Messi is No. 2. Higher than any Real Madrid player in the whole wide world. And thatÃ¢ÂÂs just the start Ã¢ÂÂ¦ yes, readers, drop FourFourTwoÃ¢ÂÂs list in there and, never mind La Liga LocaÃ¢ÂÂs complaints (Ferdinand at 9 and Pepe only at 61, youÃ¢ÂÂre having a laugh arenÃ¢ÂÂt you?
Ferdinand is No.9?! You cannot be serious...
Did you really think about including Fernando Gago?! Senna only at 30?! And how can Diarra be higher than Pires?), just watch the fall out as the Spanish media, from Marca to AS, El Mundo Deportivo to El PaÃÂs pick up on the most exhaustive list on earth, and go absolutely bonkers. What do you mean AgueroÃ¢ÂÂs better than any Madrid outfielders? How can Madrid have 12 Ã¢ÂÂ 12! Ã¢ÂÂ players and Barcelona only seven? Ruud over EtoÃ¢ÂÂo? More Italians than Spaniards? You are joking! (Actually JoaquÃÂnÃ¢ÂÂs not in the list at all.)
HiguaÃÂn at 86? RaÃÂºl at 56? But RaÃÂºl is the King! And how dare you include players from Villarreal, Valencia, Sevilla and Atletico at all? Dear, oh dear, oh dear. Come on, admit it - whoÃ¢ÂÂs been bribing you?Watch out, chaps! Batten down the hatches. The burning stakes and pitchforks are coming over the brow of the hill and baring down on FourFourTwo Towers.