Messi mania and midweek matches

Due to a certain Argentinian’s rather impressive performances over the past eight days, the Spanish sports media has been Messier than Ever Banega’s monitor... except for one pathetically predictable part of the press.

Monday evening’s TV sports reports let their graphic departments go nuts with the Barcelona player depicted both as an Incredible and the Bionic Man - but without the bionic bit - with his second goal against Real Zaragoza being replayed a hundred times from every imaginable angle.

A day later and little Leo’s cheeky grin is still dominating the agenda with Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo calling the forward a ‘Superior Being’ on their front page before going off to flog a Barça-backed sofa cushion, no doubt, whilst Sport stick with a simple ‘Super Messi’ as their headline.

Everyone vaguely related to football who dared to stick their nose outside their front door on Monday was asked their opinion on the man of the moment, so Tuesday’s papers sees Deportivo boss Miguel Angel Lotina praising Messi as “the most complete player I have ever seen – and better than Maradona.”

Former Spain manager and professional big-mouth Javier Clemente writes in his Marca column that s“I’ve not seen a player like him for a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean a long time.” (Perhaps he's paid by the word.)

Mallorca’s Gregorio Manzano has come up with a new way of stopping the pocket rocket when the two sides meet at the Ono Estadi next weekend. However, it may be against one or two FA norms, although handball now appears to have been allowed into the sport if you happen to be both Real Madrid and in a tight spot.

“You need to bring a shotgun,” announced the Mallorca boss. “Bang-bang and that’s it.”

Messi: Rather good

The Madridista AS have taken it on their chins and lead with Messi’s memorable week; editor Alfredo Relaño even claims that the footballer “is on the way to becoming the greatest in history.”

The paper also picks up on Real Madrid’s response to the Messi affair with a quote from Jorge Valdano on the front page claiming that “Messi is not a problem, he’s an incentive.”

A swift word of advice, no doubt, from Marca's acting editor-in-chief Florentino Pérez has seen Messi largely ignored until page 26 of their edition on Tuesday, aside from a tiny photo of the player with a caption claiming that Pelé had won more by his age, alongside a big advert advertising a cure for (ahem) gentlemen’s downstairs issues.

Instead, Marca lead with the seemingly made-up quote from Manuel Pellegrini of “Guti, I need you”. It trails a story claiming that “every time Madrid’s No.14 doesn’t play, their football suffers a big drop” – the most insane thing the blog has heard for some time, considering Guti was present and correct for the memorable matches of Lyon at home and Alcorcón away (until he stropped off at half-time).

Actually, that’s not entirely true. The most insane thing LLL has really heard for some time was a question put to Ezequiel Garay by a Spanish radio reporter after the Sporting win that asked the bemused and confused Madrid defender if “having a three-point advantage over Barcelona was a good or bad thing.”

Madrid's key man. And Kaka

Although Marca’s editorial bigwigs have just returned from a jolly to the USA and Argentina, the latter part of which “attracted the attention of the whole of Argentinian football journalism”, there's nothing from their fact-finding mission that could perhaps give a fresh perspective on the Messi club v Messi country issue.

But the paper did find time to grind an axe against Dani Alves - and then bury it in his back - with the complaint that the full-back “still refuses to admit that Real Madrid are leaders [by goal difference, which won’t count at the end of the season] despite what the league table says.”

The Spanish sporting press has found some time to dip their beaks into the first of the midweek fixtures in la Primera - a rare beast, indeed - with the uninspiring clash between Sporting and Deportivo kicking things off.

However, the real fun is to be found at 22.00 in the Sánchez Pizjuán, with Sevilla manager Manolo Jiménez facing both an irate home support and near-neighbours Xerez.

The home side are set to be without the newly crocked Jesús Navas and Diego Capel for the encounter, along with Luis Fabiano who LLL saw dramatically limp to his car on TV on Monday with a 'World Cup around the corner move to Manchester United don’t think I’m going to try against frackin’ Xerez do you?' gait to his stride.

And the word on the Andalusian street is that anything less than a decent win against their bottom-dwelling opponents will see Jiménez out by Wednesday, rather than June.

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