Blarney and bluster after Madrid’s Irish outing

By and large, pre-season friendlies are rubbish.

They’re something to watch when you’re too hungover to move, out of DVD boxsets or – if you're unfortunate enough to live in Britain – when it’s peeing down with rain.

Pretty much nothing can be learned from them, neither positive nor negative.

Unless you're Villarreal, perhaps, and thrashing third division sides 27-0.

However, ahead of a certain side’s summer debut against Shamrock Rovers on Monday night, this shoulder-shrugging attitude simply wasn’t an option for the maddest of Madridista media – media that had invested gallons of fawn and grovel in the team over the past two months.

For Marca, the game was the debut of the bizarrely named ‘FlorenTeam’.

The chance for the world to see where a good 120 million euro of the Real Madrid members’ money had been spuzzed with the first outings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

The Spanish sports daily, which has become a panting Florentino Pérez fanzine – complete with an article from gormless editor Eduardo Inda comparing the club president to King Midas – needed a big, big win over their Irish opponents to maintain the noisy knicker-wetting over the birth of the best team on the planet, ever.

CR9, the split-second before the accident

And what did the finger-crossing paper get in the end? As to be expected, not a great deal for what was essentially a kick-about on a Monday evening.

Benzema certainly looks like he could be a bit tasty next season, while Fernando Gago clearly hasn’t spent his summer holidays learning to pass.

Still, the late 1-0 win didn’t stop Marca purring over the debut of Cristiano Ronaldo.

“It’s not a dream anymore,” blubbed Tuesday’s front cover with the match report detailing how “Cristiano, a total footballer, went out to enjoy his debut and didn’t disappoint.”

However, despite Florentino’s fearful presence in the Marca offices, the paper’s editorial did have to admit that “the new Real Madrid is a puzzle which still lacks pieces.”

Life was a lot tougher for Spanish TV station La Sexta, which broadcast the game live to much of the country.

The channel, which is to football coverage what Maniche is to Lycra, did not hide for a second from the fact that it was firmly in the Madridista camp with the commentator marking the kick-off by screaming “This thrilling project has now begun!”

The blog can only say that had the BBC given the same treatment to Manchester United, then questions would probably have been asked in parliament.

“Will this be Cristiano Ronaldo’s first goal in the shirt of Real Madrid?!” yelled Madrid’s cheerleader. "No" was the quick response as another free-kick flew wide.

"Over the line, mark it zero"

As the game dragged on and the commentary team’s wag started to flag, they sounded more like overly-cheerful English people pretending to enjoy a BBQ in the freezing cold.

Instead, they decided to have a pop at Rafa Benitez for selfishly forcing Xabi Alonso to stick to his contract at Liverpool and not let him move to Madrid. “He’s the guilty one in this!” grumbled one pundit.

In the topsy-turvy world of the Spanish media, for any kind of bubble-bursting of the Madridista dream one must now turn to AS. And that’s never a healthy situation to be in.

And the paper was in a fairly mellow mood on Tuesday, by suggesting that “Benzema left a good sensation” but with Alfredo Relaño more than a little sniffy over the performance of Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He lacked a bit of the shine of his presentation,” sighed the paper’s editor forgetting that all the Portuguese player had to do on that occasion was grin like an eejit and yell "Hala Madrid" at regular intervals.

With Marca now starting to lower the expectations of what pre-season friendlies mean after Monday’s events, La Liga Loca can only hope a Barcelona side with just four days of training can tear Tottenham a new one, just to give the Madridista press something to chew on for a while.

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