Knock-out curse threatens Pellegrini and Perez

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After running down the blamestorming tick list of referees, a grand Spanish FA conspiracy, UEFA, Barcelona, the Anglo-Saxon media and referees again, the Madridista press had to resort to old-fashioned means to excuse Tuesday night’s loss at Lyon - and that’s the side being completely pants.

And Manuel Pellegrini, of course.

Marca were begging for the knock-out round curse to be lifted from Real Madrid against the unfancied Frenchies, but things didn't quite go to plan in the Stade Gerland with Team Florentino putting in a performance as inept – if not more so – than the one that tickled ribs around the world against Liverpool this time last year.

LA LIGA LOCA, Tue Feb 16: Madrid prepare for their annual knockout round

It’s a very disappointed Marca who have have come down hardest on CR9 and his gormless gang, with Wednesday’s headline blasting “1-0 and thank-you,” noting that it could easily have been a three or four-goal thrashing for Madrid against a garlic-guzzling side who were expected to last as long as a choc-ice given to Maniche.

"Oh, what's the point?"

While 67 percent of their readers blame the Real Madrid footballers for the Champions League chump-fest, Marca’s editorial is bashing Pellegrini’s bouffanted bonce with a big old shovel, calling the loss “another Pellegri-nada” - playing on the Spanish word for ‘nowt’.

“Last night, far from taking a step forward, it was a step back,” scoffed the paper. “A big one.”

And that’s the vibe for Wednesday’s AS, with editor Alfredo Relaño complaining that “aside from Ronaldo, we still can’t see a true team.”

Oh dear.

Even the maddest Madridista of them all, Tomás Roncero, is in a football funk at what could be six years of knock-out shame for his side and complains that the performance was s“bad from Pellegrini, bad from the stars, bad everything.”

Pellegrini: Looking well, isn't he?

The papers in the Kingdom of Catalunya have avoided laughing too hard at their capital city rivals’ expense, what with Barça still to face their opening tie against Stuttgart next week with no guarantee of victory due to injuries and somewhat indifferent form.

“Stuttgart are a similar rival to Lyon,” warns Joan Vehils in Sport. “They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

However, Mundo Deportivo can’t help themselves with a bit of a poke at Florentino Perez’ well-insulated ribs after Madrid’s third goalless defeat in three trips to Lyon.

“Pellegrini’s team was a disaster due to their poor play and gave an awful image,” tuts Josep M Artells, noting that the Madrid president’s dream of winning the Champions League trophy in the Bernabeu was not exactly going to plan.

“A shock in the return leg would be a nightmare,” chuckles the columnist.

The second leg tie against Lyon on March 10 is going to be a tremendously nervy occasion for Madrid, a side that really does have a Copa del Rey-sized complex around Champions League knockouts.

After blowing hundreds of millions in the summer, failure to move into the quarter-finals would be extremely bad for Florentino Pérez – but even worse for his manager, who can expect his belongings to be stuffed into a box before the next sunrise.

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