Barça's Twittering 12th man may not be enough against Milan
While Pep Guardiola is busy breaking in his Lederhosen and learning about the madness of dative and accusative prepositions as the future Bayern Munich boss, the Catalan may be feeling a very small sense of pleasure at Barcelona's current plight.
Their iffy run of form may have ran over only a few weeks, but it feels like years thanks to the intense scrutiny it has received. It's a dip that thumbs a nose and chin at the suggestion anyone can rule the talented giants.
It's as though a team talk of "Messi, score; Xavi, pass the ball; Alves, irritate everyone; Iniesta, dribble a bit and remember your sunblock; ValdÃÂ©s? ValdÃÂ©s, smash" would get the job done week in, week out.
BarÃÂ§a players and Jordi Roura have openly admitted that Tito Vilanova's temporary absence has been noted and will be once again on Tuesday night, despite watching from New York and being involved in all the decisions both before and after the Milan match. BarÃÂ§a have to turn around a 2-0 deficit against the Serie A side and a large chunk of discussion on Spain's various sports radio stations over the past few days has been dominated by the same theme - scoring at one end won't be the issue, it's not conceding any at the other that could be.
Another stress point in the CulÃÂ© camp ahead of Tuesday concerns the behaviour of the Camp Nou fans, with Gerard PiquÃÂ© admitting on Monday that they can be a pessimistic bunch. "We need 90,000 who believe we can do this," barked the defender. "Anyone who doesn't believe can leave their ticket with a friend or give up their seat." Barcelona-based Sport are recruiting their own 12th man to help the home side out in the last 16 tie - El Twitterazo, with the paper's front page calling on fans to use a comeback hashtag to help the team out. Things are that bad, it seems.
Looking at LLL's own Twitter account, #remontada isn't a top trend in Spain, but 'Splash2' is, making the blog wonder if a Mermaid-based comedy sequel was finally in the offing. It turns out one has been produced already - straight to video - and that this particular Splash2 was something to do with computers.
But staying on operation Red Leader, the paper publishes a wonderful column by the increasingly batty Josep Maria Casanovas on what he would do if he were Leo Messi, Xavi and PiquÃÂ©. And no it doesn't involve leaving the Camp Nou with Shakira before the game had even started, which is where the blog's imagination first went. "If I were the team psychologist I would drug them," writes the Sport columnist, "with desire and confidence. And If I were Mourinho I wouldn't watch the game to avoid a huge a disappointment," he chuckles.
Mundo Deportivo aren't allowing a single shred of self doubt to creep into their hive mind either, with J.M. Artells suggesting that fans will be positively giddy with excitement at the prospect of being terrified by every Milan attack. "The supporters sense an epic and tonight they will be unconditionally behind their heroes." Especially after that warning from PiquÃÂ©, we suspect.
The Madrid papers are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of Barcelona going out at the last 16 stage, a whole round before their own side's probable quarter-final demolition by Bayern Munich. AS will be peering at the Camp Nou closely, with their front cover predicting either "a comeback or a change of cycle," despite the fact their own side is currently 13 points behind the Catalan club in the domestic league table. "Milan was not an accident, but a symptom confirmed in the games against Madrid and even in the last one against Depor,Ã¢ÂÂ writes Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o in the paper's leader. Ã¢ÂÂSuddenly the team has stopped.Ã¢ÂÂ
La Liga Loca's own prediction powers, which brilliantly featured Madrid losing out to BarÃÂ§a in the Copa del Rey and then to Manchester United, sees the initiative of a Twitter campaign as too little, too late for the Catalans. While the blog feels that the game will be won by Barcelona, Milan will do enough to secure a spot in the next round.