Will Barça mess up against Mallorca?

About three weeks ago, Barcelona’s voyage to the Balearics to take on Mallorca in the semi-final second leg of the Spanish Cup was set to be the creamiest of cakewalks, the lightest of snacks, heck, a match so easy-peasy that even Alexander Hleb would be given a go. 

Instead, Wednesday’s clash could be a very nervy affair indeed, with Pep’s Dream Boys having to prove to the watching world that they’re still rock stars and have still got their rock moves.

The tick in the positive points column for the Catalan club ahead of the game is that they carry a 2-0 lead to the Ono Estadi, although the memory of being 5-2 up against Getafe before losing 4-0 two years ago is still frighteningly fresh in the collective culé mind.

The big factor working against the league leaders is the hysterical, God-help-us-if-there’s-a-war, wobbling-upper-lip local press, who have got their panties in a big old bunch over their team’s recent football form.

"CRISIS!” screamed Sport’s headline on Monday. “What’s going on?!” was the bawling banner a day later.

Mundo Deportivo chose to unleash an extremely rare attempt at humour by boasting that “Barcelona will still win the title” before adding “if they don’t, then we’ll give Madrid the front cover.”

Sport’s inky-fingered analysis attempts to worm away into the root causes of Barça’s sorry slump and blames fatigue, a dodgy defence (i.e. Víctor Valdés) and the lack of pressure on opposition midfields.

Valdes: Now you see it, etc

AS editor Alfredo Relaño compares Barcelona’s situation to that nightmare where your legs don't work as you are trying to run away from a terrifying, grotesque monster (in La Liga Loca’s case, it’s normally Roberto Gómez).

Meanwhile, someone who really should know what’s going on in the culé camp is Xavi, who has chin-stroked over the reasons for their run of three league matches without a win.

“We didn’t beat Betis because of a miracle. Against Espanyol it was referees and against Atlético it was bad luck,” opined the buck-passing Barça midfielder.

Wednesday’s tie kicks off at the traditional family-friendly time of 10pm against a Mallorca side that, to be diplomatic, are crap.

In fact, they are so inept that they have even launched a “sometimes dreams come true” poster campaign.

One man who is as popular on the island as an EasyJet stuffed with Strongbow-supping Scousers is Joan ‘Joan’ Laporta, after his attempts to flog Mallorca to Uzbekistan last summer.

"Dey do dough, don't dey dough" etc

It was “ethical and legal” claimed the King of Catalunya on Tuesday, denying that there was any conflict of interest in the move. Mainly because he stood to make a lot of money out of it.

Wednesday’s other Copa Del Rey tie sees Sevilla travelling to the city of Bilbao with a 2-1 lead to take on Athletic.

Rather like plucky minnows from Lincolnshire who are facing the likes of Fulham in the FA Cup, the city has been decked out in red and white stripes in anticipation of what they hope will be a famous comeback for the Basque club.

But it ain’t going to happen, says opposition president José Maria del Nido, who warns his opponents that “Sevilla are going to eat the lions.” And considering his club have won shedloads of stuff over the past few years, La Liga Loca is inclined to believe him.

Wednesday’s Marca demonstrates once again why just about everyone in Spain bar Real Madrid fans loathe Raúl so much. And it has nothing to do with his striking abilities – most footie fans will readily admit that he is one of the best forwards in Spanish football history.

Instead, it’s the fact that he is treated as some kind of god-like presence in the game in Spain - a man who sh*ts gold, a player with healing hands, the Second Coming.

"Me? I've won? This is so unexpected"

The Madridista rag has given the forward their cheap-ass “Marca Legend” award, which resembles a scrunched-up newspaper dumped in gold paint. “He’s a living legend of football,” sighed the daily’s editorial on Wednesday.

The footballer, who is currently topping the table in their player of the season competition - the first of which was won, coincidentally, by Raúl last year - declared that “winning the Marca Legend award is more important than the Ballon d’Or.”

Someone’s pants are very much on fire. And it sure ain’t the going-commando La Liga Loca.


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