One peculiarity you need to get used to when you move to Spain is the tendency for the locals to speak in a fashion that could only be described as 'direct'. In stuffier climes, a friend pointing out that you're fat, ugly or smell funny would be considered rude. In Spain, it is simply seen as being honest and up-front.
For that reason, JosÃÂ© Mourinho is currently being a great friend to Real Madrid and the media. Traditionally, Mourinho had deployed assistant Aitor Karanka to speak on the clubÃ¢ÂÂs behalf before and after league games, but in recent weeks, the manager has been eager to take the opportunity to step up and feed the football mediaÃ¢ÂÂs burning need for gossip and scandal.
The Portuguese coach has managed to infuriate the local press by giving what he would argue are straight, honest answers to questions in regards to the club, its supporters, its players and the media themselves. Of course, the Madrid boss could have heeded the call from Florentino PÃÂ©rez on Monday for unity by choosing Karanka to chat about WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs meeting with MÃÂ¡laga, but there would be no fun in that whatsoever.
In response to being asked what he thought about PepeÃ¢ÂÂs public support of Iker Casillas, who is currently outcast on the bench alongside the Portuguese centre-back, Mourinho boldly said: Ã¢ÂÂitÃ¢ÂÂs easy to analyse. His problem has a name and itÃ¢ÂÂs Raphael Varane. From this point, thereÃ¢ÂÂs no story.Ã¢ÂÂ
When probed on his attitude to the club captain, Mourinho's answer was another seemingly honest one. Ã¢ÂÂI like Diego LÃÂ³pez more than Iker Casillas. ItÃ¢ÂÂs simple. I donÃ¢ÂÂt have a personal problem with him, itÃ¢ÂÂs not a decision thatÃ¢ÂÂs deliberately against one person. I like him more.Ã¢ÂÂ
MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs ongoing fun and games has certainly scandalised AS, with editor Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o fuming that TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs chat was Ã¢ÂÂa prolonged exercise in moral cowardliness that disrespected Madrid, but above all Florentino PÃÂ©rez...a masochistic victim of the excesses of an insubordinate subordinate.Ã¢ÂÂ
The MÃÂ¡laga match at the Santiago BernabÃÂ©u feels of secondary importance to the soap opera surrounding it, despite the fact that if Madrid fail to win, BarÃÂ§a will be crowned champions. MÃÂ¡laga also have hopes for a Champions League spot, which is why itÃ¢ÂÂs a little unfair that the team are currently having to play three matches in a week followed by a weekend off. Celta Vigo face the same situation, thanks to Liga bosses scheduling the Copa del Rey final on the same weekend as a round of league fixtures, hence the requirement to move the games involving the two finalists to Wednesday night.
AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid know that a victory in Vigo will guarantee the club third place in the league and a Champions League group stage spot for next season. Keeping a clean sheet against Celta for 17 minutes will also give keeper Thibaut Courtois a club record for not conceding away from home. The current landmark of 613 minutes is coincidentally held by current Celta boss Abel Resino, so expect an early bombardment on the Rojiblanco goal. Ã¢ÂÂTo beat my record, heÃ¢ÂÂs going to have to stop a lot more,Ã¢ÂÂ promised the former AtlÃÂ©tico goalie.
Although it seems like a couple of strange games stuck away on a Wednesday night, thereÃ¢ÂÂs an awful lot at stake for the four teams involved. But no matter what happens, itÃ¢ÂÂs likely it will once again be Mourinho making headlines - not least thanks to the news Sir Alex Ferguson is about to free-up the Manchester United hot seat.
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