Coaches and players take a back seat as press go El Clásico crazy

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Pep’s not talking about it. José is keeping his trap well and truly shut for once. Even the players are bored of the whole affair before it has even begun.

What everyone is so reluctant to discuss in Spain is El Clásico - the game so important to the life of la Liga, that it has been stuck on a Monday night, the obvious day of the week for the season’s headline act...

All in all, it’s no wonder that none of the participants of the hype-fest are too bothered about the Camp Nou clash, as it will almost certainly be tighter than a Catalan on the dole, and end in a goalless draw. “There is still another league game and a Champions League clash to go,” pointed out David Villa on Monday at a Spanish Player’s Union function, with Iker Casillas seated next to him concurring, but noting glumly that all the build-up baloney will happen anyway. 

It is Sport over in the Catalan capital that has really kicked things off this time round, with an edition on Tuesday that is - and you must excuse the blog’s French at this point - completely batsh*t crazy. The paper is more ruffled than a pug dog in a wind tunnel by the thought of José Mourinho returning to the Camp Nou to do over the Dream Boys, once again.

Sport has dedicated its first six pages to highly entertaining but wonderfully unhinged rants on Real Madrid. “The most hated! A clamour against them!” barks its front cover at a picture of José Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The crime the new Castle Greyskull king apparently committed was to note, not unreasonably, that Sporting boss Manuel Preciado had rested a few starters in his side game at Barcelona earlier this season, and that he hoped he did the same against his precious galacticos last Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s terrible trespass, as viewed from Sport’s ivory tower, is just being Cristiano Ronaldo. Which is fair enough.

“Madrid have gone into a dangerous spiral,” frets Josep Maria Casanovas in a column where the Barça-barmy writer feigns concern that the club’s ‘prestige’ is suffering at the hands of their gobby and gabby manager.

“Mou has confessed to his close friends that he doesn’t feel supported by the club,” stirs Casanovas, suggesting the Real Madrid coach felt isolated and unprotected from the attacks from Manuel Preciado, as if he was a petticoat-clad, Victorian rose petal needing support from a big strong man.

Mundo Deportivo have also gone on the attack - although find time to squeeze Barça’s reported new signing, Ibrahim Afellay, onto the front cover - with Santi Nolla concerned that “every day, it’s getting harder to have respect for Mourinho,” what with Madrid unbeaten at the top of la Primera and looking very comfortable in the Champions League, a competition that Mourinho has a bit of a history in.

Back in the Spanish capital, AS pre-empted the flak coming Madrid’s way, with editor Alfredo Relaño tutting that “sometimes I think that people are looking for reasons to come down hard on Madrid,” citing Xabi Alonso’s handball and the ludicrously over-inflated ‘back-pass’ from Ronaldo against Atlético Madrid as examples of the constant ‘faux-polemics’ in the Spanish press.

However, the paper has created a bit of a rod for his own journalistic back by stirring the pot somewhat ahead of Madrid’s match with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. As is the tradition, they have looked to destablise Madrid’s rivals a tad by claiming that the club are desperate to sign the opposition’s star player.

On this occasion it’s Fernando Llorente, but in the past it has been Kun Agüero, Jésus Navas, David Silva, David Villa, Javier Arizmendi and Riki.

Marca's loon-bag editor, Eduardo Inda, must have been out of the office for the day being photographed with famous people, as they only mentioned the genius of Mourinho on page eight, although they did put a sure smile on Madridista faces with an editorial reminding the Bernabeu massive that Kaká will be back in the New Year, bar any international tournaments or beach volleyball parties the Brazilian may be saving himself for, next summer.