So that was the masterplan, then. With speculation from Marca, Real Madrid’s fielding of an ineligible player suddenly became no oversight, not yet another blunder. When Friday’s edition of the paper suggested the club might line up money-spinning friendlies to fill in the missing Copa del Rey games, should an ejection from the tournament be confirmed, all the balls fell into place.
Money made in Qatar will always be better than Cadiz. Madrid’s latest scrape remains the big talking point of the weekend, as well as how supporters in the Bernabéu are going to greet a certain Florentino Pérez in an otherwise humdrum clash with Getafe. All this and so much more this weekend...
Will Florentino’s mind-trick calm Madridista massive?
LLL is always on the hunt for new career opportunities, generally at the suggestion of the FFT bosses. It quite fancies being a communications bod at a club... like Real Madrid, for example.
If LLL had been in charge on Thursday, it would have sent Florentino up to announce that there will be a price to be paid for the Copa del Rey suspension blunder.
A fax machine would have been wheeled out, and hit repeatedly with a hammer. Everyone would have laughed. The Real Madrid president would have come across considerably less grumpy and frumpy than he normally does. He could have then told the assembled media that the club accepted any repercussions, and that there were far more important issues in the world to focus on. Journalists would have risen as one to their feet and applauded. There would have been tears.
Instead, the Madrid president went before the press – a weekly event, these days – to say that the club didn’t do anything wrong, it was all someone else’s fault and they will take any case to the ends of the judicial world. And thus looked like an enormous plum, quickly ridiculed across the Spanish Twitter-verse. “There was no incorrect line-up… there was no incorrect line up...”
Real Madrid vs Getafe: Saturday 16.00 CET
Will Gary Nev likes what he sees against Barcelona?
Being a traitor to the green, green grass of Blighty and loving foreign parts for some time now means that LLL was not fully exposed to the overwhelming power of the Nevster. But now it is. And it likes it. It feels good. The blog started Thursday being all pooh-pooh over the former Manchester United defender, joining his brother Felipe (aka plain old 'Phil') in running the Mestalla club. Not necessarily because G-Nev lacks acumen, but the fact that Valencia has notoriously been a batpoop-crazy institution that has tended to destroy perfectly good coaches.
But a confident, knowing performance from the Neville brother has left a fairly positive impression in the Valencia world. While it's fairly obvious how the coaching novice has got the job, there seems to be a determination to deliver the goods. But not against Barcelona. Instead, the ever-reliable Voro will be taking over for the visit of the Catalan club. Luis Enrique will still beware a more-than-capable team who might well pull their finger out for the new manager watching in the stands. Heck, even the crowd might actually trying supporting the players. Go Team Nev!
Valencia vs Barcelona: Saturday 20.30 CET
Will Barça players be back on message in time?
During a week considerably less rowdy than the one just gone, the news that Javier Mascherano had agreed to a jail sentence for tax fraud with Spanish judicial authorities might have raised a eyebrows.
But due to these kind of stories now being sooooooo passé and the fact that sentences this short are never served means that the report from Thursday became an afterthought.
Instead, questions were sent in the direction of Gerard Piqué on why he sent out a chuckling tweet about Real Madrid’s Cheryshev-Gate – “because it seemed funny to me” – and also Dani Alves, who suggested that his rivals should embrace any mistake made. But he doesn’t hold too many personal grudges against Madrid: “I don’t hate them that much. A Primera without Madrid would lack spice. And I like spicy stuff.”
The players will be back with noses to the grindstone while the new Nevillers await in Mestalla on Saturday.
Valencia vs Barcelona: Saturday 20.30 CET
Is Javi Gracia facing last match against Athletic?
A midweek Copa del Rey defeat for Málaga against Mirandés was another hammer blow for the future of coach Javi Gracia, whose team is currently in the relegation zone of La Primera and being torn up by an institutional scrap between the Qatari owners and local leadership. But more bad news was dished out on Thursday, with La Liga president Javier Tebas warning the club was just €900,000 away from breaking its salary cap limit, meaning winter signings are going to be tricky unless some deadwood is discarded.
Athletic Bilbao vs Málaga: Sunday 20.30 CET
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