A big bonfire burning for Barcelona

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"Watch out! He's getting away," screamed Marca's man in Manchester as Rijkaard bolted for the Barcelona bus.

"Burn him!" screamed the Sport supremo. "Yes! Burn him," yelled Mundo Deportivo's roving reporter.

It was always going to be a tense tightrope of terror for frowning Frankie and his footballers on Tuesday night. One moment of magic from Messi and it was headlines declaring the Dutch coach to be the greatest thing since toast with tomato smeared on top.

Instead, the Catalan club left the North West with nowt. Which means the knives are out in the bipolar Barcelona press.

"It wasn't a dream it was a nightmare," sobbed Sport whose cranky columnist, Albert Masnau grumbled that "the best thing to do will be to say good-bye to the two most transcendental people of the last five years, Ronaldinho and Frank Rijkaard."

"It's the end of an era. A team is finished," opined Josep Maria Casanovas, jabbing his journalistic pitchfork towards Rijkaard and co.

Mundo Deportivo are in a similar maudlin mood and also report 'an end of an era.' However, they do find space on their website to flog the official Barcelona towel - yours for 2.95 euros. Although potential purchasers will need to get there fast as most of them have been thrown in by the players.

Rijkaard consoles Deco whose just heard he's next on the bonfire

Marca's entry on Tuesday's entertaining encounter speaks of a lack of 'speed, precision and hunger' from the visiting players. And this differs significantly from AS, the only paper to have some sympathy for Barcelona's plight.

"They played a great game without was an attacking recital," wrote their reporter who has probably already had his desk cleared by his mad-for-Madrid managers.

It was a grey day all round for Joan Laporta who found his temper getting the better of him once again when he decided to get into a slanging match with a supporter on the mean streets of Manchester. In front of the tv cameras.

"Swindler," yelled a cultureless culé as Laporta strutted past - an insult that the Barça bigwig simply could not allow and saw him return to the fan to berate him for his rudery. And maybe ask him if he had seen a laptop lying around.

One team who are dreaming of having their asses owned by an English club in the Champions League are Atlético Madrid. And on Tuesday, the puffed up president, Enrique Cerezo spoke at an official event about the possibility of this happening next season.

"In three weeks we'll definitely have a passport to the Champions League," declared Cerezo. And this was all fine and dandy as a bold declaration if it hadn't been for the fact that a few minutes before, he had complained to his companion that "I'm fed up, we're getting worse every day."

What Enrique didn't realise is that the microphones were on when he was discussing the club's current predicament. "The downfall came when Maniche left, because of the pigheadedness of the manager," he ranted.

The cost of hiring and firing staff members as well as replenishing Juan Bautista's biscuit barrel has finally caught up with Valencia, with AS reporting that the club are set to sell David Villa, Joaquín and David Silva over the summer. The paper also reports that Santiago Cañizares will also be leaving by the back door having agreed to have his contract terminated this summer.