No football? Who cares? Madrid & Barça still fight

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“Good effort, pats on the back and hip, hip, hooray!” is Friday's message from LLL, with Barcelona and Real Madrid proving that they don’t need football to have an unseemly cat-fight and keep everyone momentarily diverted from pretending to be interested in U-21 football all of a sudden.

Just when hostilities had died down in the siesta-inducing summer sun one month after the Clásico craziness, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell decided to stoke the embers of this particular footballing barbecue with a full-on, take-our-ball-home, not-fair strop aimed at evil Real Madrid.

Reading from a statement at a press gathering on Thursday afternoon, Rosell complained that “we believe that this season Real Madrid has gone beyond all the limits of the necessary sporting rivalry, making accusations against our club that have no foundation.”

NEWS Thu 16 Jun Rosell restokes Real war of words

The Barça boss was in part referring to an accusation published by radio station COPE in which a journalist claimed that an unnamed source at Real Madrid was suggesting that Barça were doping their players – an accusation that was withdrawn by the station a day later. However, Rosell felt that Madrid were not strong enough in distancing themselves from the story at the time.

“I can assure you that if someone in the name of FC Barcelona had made an accusation of this kind we would have acted with firmness, denying it immediately and taking those responsible to court,” said a strident Rosell.

The Barcelona president was also miffed at José Mourinho’s rambling hints that the Catalan club were the beneficiaries of a UEFA-UNICEF-Illuminati plot to ensure that they are Europe’s top team along with the accusations of cheating from Barça players and racism from Busquets during the Champions League semis. Rosell then threatened that if Madrid were to follow a similar path next year then “Barça will be obliged to look at breaking off relations.”

Over in Mordor, Madrid mused for a while on their response and issued a reply five hours later saying that the club “regrets the unfortunate statement” made but understood that Barça’s board were under pressure from the local media to take “a more aggressive attitude towards our entity.”

The statement continued by claiming that the accusations of doping had nothing to do with anyone at the club and everything was denied at the time. It also noted tit-for-tat that “Barcelona lodged an astonishing formal complaint against the coach of Real Madrid at UEFA, something unprecedented in the relations between our clubs.” The official response concluded by reinforcing the message that Madrid would continue its commitment to fair play and the battle against racism. Unlike another club, perhaps, was the between-the-lines hint.

The response to the rumble in the Madrid media was unusually tame with AS editor Alfredo Relaño opining that Rosell’s tone was “firm but not excessive” and pointed out that “Mourinho is the real problem in these relations. Barça hate him and are afraid of him. Madrid are afraid of him too but need him.”

Marca felt that Rosell was stirring unnecessarily but asked in Friday's editorial that “the two most important clubs in the world limit themselves to a strictly sporting realm. Real Madrid and Barcelona are much more than this and should set an example for the millions of fans they represent.”

Over in the Catalan capital, Sport have got their cavalry and bugles out to support their club president in his forceful discourse. “It was tough but impeccable,” wrote Josep María Casanovas. “It’s a way of saying ‘Enough!’ From now on, no more nonsense from the Portuguese coach will be tolerated and it also demands that Florentino Pérez’s club do not overstep the limits of sporting behaviour with dirty tactics. It’s his ultimatum.”

Writing in Mundo Deportivo, whose headline screams of an “Ultimatum to Madrid”, Santi Nolla reports that “Rosell stood up to Madrid and told him that he would not cross his arms if Mou-Flo sully the name of Barça once again, like they did last season.”

Barcelona’s rather strident tone in its accusations at Real Madrid and the stroppy response from the Santiago Bernabeu suggest that this is battle that is going to become even more unseemly over the next season, especially with a Super Cup double-header to come in August.

LLL expects more insults, slurs, handbag-bashing and a fair bit of slander thrown in for good measure.

And LLL can’t wait.