Football fiestas and a Florentino frenzy

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Barring witchcraft or a Bear Stearns-style collapse, Barcelona will be picking up at least two trophies this season, meaning yet more arrests in the Catalan capital from bottle-chucking culés.

Wednesday night’s total reached around 45 say Sport - and increasingly hysterical levels of hype from a bonkers Barça-barmy press.

Pep’s Dream Boys’ fairly comfy 4-1 Copa del Rey win over Athletic sees both Sport and Mundo Deportivo blasting “Champions!” on their front pages on Thursday, and in a very giggly, giddy mood inside.

“Losing to Barcelona, the best team in the world is no dishonour,” writes Sport’s Josep Casanovas simultaneously ruffling the Basque battlers' hair and completely ignoring the existence of Manchester United.

“Madrid have not won the cup since 1993,” chuckles Fernando Polo in Mundo Deportivo, noting the second most important statistic of a night when Barcelona lifted the trophy for the 25th time.

Heck, even the mad-for-Madrid AS are a little excited by the event, with editor Alfredo Relaño commenting Barça have “played football like angels (LLL missed that part of the bible) and they’re going to win titles in doing so - definitely two, maybe three.”

Marca merely plump for an admission on the front cover that “they’re very good.”

One down, two to go for the Dream Boys

The paper’s main concern on Thursday is what it sees as an appalling act of censorship and media manipulation during the coverage of the game - something that some at the paper are fairly adept at themselves, as it happens.

During the broadcast by state broadcaster TVE, the channel cut away when the national anthem was about to be played and, by chance, when a cacophony of catcalls was about to be hurled in the direction of the attending King Juan Carlos from the two sets of supporters.  

At half-time the channel apologised for their ‘error’ and replayed the moving moment with the jeers removed and an image added of a proud, royalist Athletic Bilbao fan with his hand on his heart.

“In a move of pure Francoism, TVE opted for censorship,” rants Thursday’s editorial, condemning the TV station’s decision.

The paper also reports other royal-protecting events such as Gerard Piqué having a Catalan flag taken off him when climbing up to the podium to collect his medal from a very disgruntled-looking king.

But such polemical goings-on were forgotten less than 12 hours later with the return of a certain Florentino Pérez to the world after “three years, two months, 13 days, 16 hours, 30 minutes” of silence according to a very happy Marca.

Madrid’s Hotel Ritz was the setting for a bursting-to-breaking-point press conference, broadcast live on a number of channels where the former Real president announced his aim to retake his rightful place on throne of Castle Greyskull - a declaration received by a loud round of applause from the cap-doffing, fawning journalists present.

“I kept a respectful silence for three years,” explained Pérez on his reclusive behaviour. “It was my best contribution to the stability of the club.”

His decision to quit in February of 2006 was “the wrong one” admitted the candidate, saying that he only had the best interests of the club at heart at the time.

In a 13-minute speech littered with bubbly buzzwords such as ‘revitalisation’, ‘renewal’ and ‘solidity’, Pérez detailed plans to build a sporting city for the youth system, hinted that a roof would be stuck on top of the Bernabeu (one can only wonder which company the construction magnate will be handing the contracts to) and teased that Jorge Valdano and Zinedine Zidane would form part of his managerial team should he win June’s presidential poll.

After the speech, the number one candidate took questions from journalists for a good hour (until La Liga Loca got bored, basically - he may still be talking right now) and swerved any attempts from hacks to squeeze information from him on who his transfer targets would be, admitting only that “Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world.”

La Liga Loca already has an idea what the front pages of Friday’s press are going to say.

"Yes, me again..."

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