Barcelona beat Granada 1-0 on Tuesday night, but you wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt really guess it from the somewhat muted response in Wednesday morning's papers. And as well it might be, as PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys were restricted to just a single goal - albeit a magnificent free-kick from Xavi - by a newly-promoted side who played over half an hour with just ten men
Even the Barcelona manager himself admitted his side werenÃ¢ÂÂt all that in Andalusia, with Guardiola grumbling that Ã¢ÂÂwe were not fast in our circulation of the ball. We didnÃ¢ÂÂt get into their box enough.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs like BarÃÂ§a are playing at 50% capacity,Ã¢ÂÂ fretted Josep Maria Casanovas writing in Sport. Ã¢ÂÂOne goal in two matches is a poor return for a team that has 70% possession of the ball.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂThe spectators should get their money back,Ã¢ÂÂ suggests J.M Artells writing in Mundo Deportivo. Ã¢ÂÂThe blaugrana were barely recognisable in the first half.Ã¢ÂÂ
The chance to prod a disapproving finger into BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs belly certainly wasnÃ¢ÂÂt missed in the Spanish capital, with AS editor Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o tutting that Ã¢ÂÂjust when Madrid have reached a state of grace, BarÃÂ§a appear to have lost a bit of inspiration, or, if not, luck.
Ã¢ÂÂXavi against boredom,Ã¢ÂÂ moaned the paperÃ¢ÂÂs match report.
Dullness certainly wasnÃ¢ÂÂt the feature of TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs other match, with Sevilla being held to a 2-2 home draw by the then bottom-of-the-table Racing in a bit of a surprising result. But itÃ¢ÂÂs unlikely the Cantabrians will gain too much pleasure from the point and two goals scored as the match was lost by Racing in injury-time after a header from Manu del Moral rescued SevillaÃ¢ÂÂs booty
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs a shame as it would have been our first win,Ã¢ÂÂ sighed Racing boss, HÃÂ©ctor CÃÂºper.
There are six games being played on Wednesday night, headed up by league leaders Levante's home tie with Real Sociedad. With the visitors in a bit of a dodgy spot at the moment, LLL is going to curse the blogÃ¢ÂÂs newfound heroes by predicting a seventh straight win for Levante, who have now picked up 53 points in their last 26 league games. However, there are still some glum faces in the Valencia clubÃ¢ÂÂs squad concerning thier eventual fate this season
Ã¢ÂÂEverything will end up going to back to normal,Ã¢ÂÂ predicted midfielder Juanlu. Ã¢ÂÂLevante will end up fighting for their lives to survive.Ã¢ÂÂ
A win on Wednesday would give Levante 23 points, meaning that the club would only have to find seven more victories in the current campaign to triumph in that eventual struggle to the death at the bottom, so there are some reasons to be cheerful for the 31-year-old.
Rayo Vallecano are looking for their first home win of the season against a MÃÂ¡laga side who are in terrible shape, having conceded seven and scored nowt in their last two games against Levante and Real Madrid. Getafe host Osasuna in what is set to be a dog of a match, while Mallorca will be trying to score a proper goal for once - the teamÃ¢ÂÂs last four have been penalties - with the visit of Sporting.
Valencia will enjoy playing away from their currently disgruntled fans against Zaragoza, while Real Madrid will be taking on Villarreal in the Bernabeu in front of their...er...gruntled fans. Interestingly and entertainingly, this is a clash that has given Marca all sorts of trouble.
Because of the paperÃ¢ÂÂs insistence of awarding Cristiano Ronaldo an extra goal last season, to help the Portuguese along the way in their top scorer Ã¢ÂÂPichichiÃ¢ÂÂ prize, WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs edition gasps that the forward is just a single strike away from his century for Real Madrid. However, a glance at AS shows that Ronaldo is actually two away from scoring a hundred official goals - a record that pretty much everyone else runs with.
MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs other dilemma is the news that JosÃÂ© Mourinho allowed his players to stay at home rather than in a hotel overnight for a home match, something the players hate doing. Manuel Pellegrini gave into their grumbles during his ill-fated reign and allowed his squad home-leave the night before games at the Bernabeu to huge criticism from Marca, who slammed his 'weak will'.
Golden boy Mourinho doing the same sees Marca having to back peddle a little by publishing the ten rules that the Madrid manager has given to his footballers on the front page - or rather the ten rules that the paper has completely made up to get them out of a tight spot. These apparent laws from above include getting between eight and ten hours sleep and Ã¢ÂÂnot going to bed hungry or thirsty.Ã¢ÂÂ
The irony is that, although there are many matches in which Madrid will need to be in tip-top form this season, the visit of Villarreal is not one of them. A night on the town, a cheesy burrito and a couple of hours kip would still be enough preparation to beat a team playing abysmally at the moment. LLL wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt bet against at least two members of the sideÃ¢ÂÂs fun-lovinÃ¢ÂÂ back five have experienced such a night ahead of WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs game.
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