Blatter's Blather and Atlético’s Ambitions

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The main preoccupation with the Spanish football press this week was getting their panties in a bunch over what they felt was the criminal decision of a group of footballers, managers and journalists independently deciding not to vote a Spaniard as the FIFA World Player of the Year, Ballon d’Or thingy.

Poor old L’Équipe, who used to dole out the annual prize, seem to have been parked in FIFA’s stinky, old shed at the bottom of the garden like an incontinent aunt to make room for Sepp Blatter’s Nobel Peace Prize bid. But it’s tough titties to those cheese-eating surrender monkey journalists for selling their souls to the Swiss supremo.

Editor of AS, Alfredo Relaño, amongst all the grumbling in the paper about Leo Messi being chosen ahead of Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta, did at least take time to point out that the decision was not “made by a small panel that can be influenced, but an ocean of specialists” and should thus be respected.

“Up yours Delors!” was the spirit of Marca’s offbeat response to Monday’s gala goings-on with the newspaper under the impression that FIFA’s truly lovable leader personally chose Leo Messi just to annoy the heck out of Spain, even further, after failing to give the country the World Cup in 2018 along with a host of other crimes that are probably UEFA’s responsibility. However, Marca has never been a newspaper that’s overly concerned with facts to drive home a point with a king sized mallet.

“Once again, Blatter is against the Spanish!” fist-pumped the paper’s front page on Tuesday getting itself into a big of a tizz. “What does it take to win the Ballon d’Or?” asked the editorial. “The head of FIFA has again shown his antipathy against our football,” an argument that appears to suggest that the organisation’s leader either rigged the competition’s voting or should have.

Looking at some of the eyebrow-raising results of the reader’s polls in the paper from time to time, LLL is sure that someone at Marca can offer advice on how best to do it.

Over in Cataluyna, Sport and Mundo Deportivo had a win, win, win situation over the honour with three Barcelona players in the running for the title. And neither of the papers were going to let their readers forget this.

“Clearly Barça won and any of the three finalists would have accepted it being shared,” opined Santi Nolla in Mundo Deportivo. In the offices of Sport, Josep María Casanovas sensed the swill that Marca were going to concoct and preempted with the plea not to “politicise the prize, Leo is the number one and plays for Barça and in the Spanish league.”

“Guardiola’s Barça is shielded against all hate attacks,” sniffed his colleague, Lluís Mascaró a day later when the plea fell on deaf ears.

But now onto infinitely more interesting business and the continuation of a breathless Copa Del Rey which is set to reach the first leg of the semi-final stages before January is over. Wednesday and Thursday see the start of the quarter-final stages and some rip-roaring ties there are in store, too.

Wednesday’s serving of cup footie starts with the delectable Villarreal against Sevilla. The ever reliable, faithful forward of the Andalusian club, Luis Fabiano, appears to have contracted an unfortunate muscle injury, coincidentally when there is a great deal of chatter concerning a move to Corinthians after a reported €6 million bid that will almost certainly be laughed out of town by his side.

The chatter has mainly come from Luis Fabiano’s agent, José Fuentes, who has his eye on a new Miami Beach condo perhaps and has advised that “now is the best time for Luis Fabiano to leave Sevilla and play in Brazil.”

Second division Real Betis have certainly talked the talk ahead of their clash against Barcelona in the Camp Nou with coach, Pepe Mel, saying the tie was 50-50.

However, Betis lost the first battle in the cup clash when the Spanish FA turned down the rather cheeky request from the near bankrupt club to have the order of the matches reversed so Betis could kick off in the ‘whatever their stadium is called this week’ to help boost the attendance.

It’s harder to get excited about Thursday’s first cup clash considering that Deportivo are involved in it with a visit to Almería, but the same cannot be said for a game kicking off at ten which continues Atlético Madrid’s ambitious bid to lose four times to José Mourinho’s moaners in a single campaign.

These days watching Atlético Madrid is a similar experience as peering into the window of a pet shop: pitiful, sad, sometimes distressing but highly addictive. Still rumpled from a 4-1 ass-kicking by Hércules on Monday night, the Rojiblancos have been in fighting talk mode with José Antonio Reyes claiming that it was a good time to play Madrid as he and his teammates were “angry and upset” and wanted “show everyone the team we are.”

The problem with that plan of action is that the team they are is largely a crap one but one that hopes Atleti’s normal dismal record against Real Madrid in the league won’t be carried through to the cup.