Curiosity and complaints ahead of France friendly

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There are four distinct approaches adopted by Spain's sports papers in handling Wednesday's friendly with France: previewing it, ignoring it, complaining about it and extrapolating the pants off it.

AS are the media-types who deserve the biggest pat on the back for affording this most intriguing of clashes its due attention with editor Alfredo Relaño noting that "Spain is the France of ten years ago" with his argument being that the latter won back-to-back World Cup and European Championship titles and the former are hoping to.

But in reverse. And without the head butts...

The Spanish tend to view games against their northern neighbours in the same way that England approaches Germany. Or Argentina. Or Brazil. Or Portugal. Or pretty much any other nation that they play when the stakes are high - with a mixture of plucky optimism, fear and a sense of dread.

Having failed to beat France on their home turf in 42 years and Marca's "we're going to retire you tonight, Zidane" business from Germany 2006 still fresh in the memory, the friendly is being taken fairly seriously.

Zizou's chums celebrate his 'retirement'

Except by Marca, that is, who have elected to use Wednesday's edition for part two of their interview with 'Real Madrid signing' Sergio Canales, technically still a Racing player until the summer, but a youngster who has caused no little carnage in Cantabria with the widely publicised footage and photos of the striker putting on a Madrid shirt, carnage that the striker's agent-father has noticed.

"I want to apologise to anyone upset by these images...I guarantee this won't happen again," grovelled Angel Canales in a letter given to the media, admitting that the stunt was a mistake.

Nevertheless, Marca's interview with the eventually-to-be-sold-to-Getafe-and-forgotten-about forward did bring such stunning revelations as Canales predicting that Real Madrid would win the league and that Cristiano was better than Messi.

"If I had to choose one, I like Ronaldo more," admitted the Racing striker, catching the 'I'd think very carefully about your reply' look from the assorted Madrid suits in front of him.

Both Barcelona papers are focussing on Wednesday's Furia Roja against France showdown but in very different ways.

Mundo Deportivo have gone into alternate dimension mode with the front cover blasting "Barça 2011" complete with photos of Ribery, Cesc, Villa, Silva and Jean-Alain Boumsong and the prediction that all five (except one, to be technically correct) will be at the Camp Nou next season.

"What do you mean I'm not any good!?"

Sport are complaining that Victor Valdés has been left out of the Spain squad once again - not that they should actually care one way or t'other, considering the royalist, imperialist, crushing Catalunya underfoot nature of the national team - with the headline moaning that "the best isn't going to the World Cup."

And to prove their point, Sport reel off some statistics that note that the Barcelona keeper has conceded just 0.58 goals per game this season, compared to Iker Casillas' 0.75, the 1.00 of Pepe Reina at Liverpool and the current ratio of 98 strikes a match that poor Diego López sees fly past him at Villarreal, these days.

"Valdés is lacking good PR, is not so media-friendly as Casillas, does not have a father who played with the selectors like Reina nor is he a goalkeeper who is just happy to be involved, like Diego López," says Josep María Casanovas.

And nor is he actually any good as many, many Barcelona fans will readily confirm.

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