Peed-off Pep backs Barça bounce-back

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La Liga Loca has got an awful a lot in common with Pep Guardiola.

We're not talking about the Barça manager’s hairline that has not so much receded since he took over at the Camp Nou, as retreated to a retirement village somewhere near Alicante to see out the rest of its days. 

Nor are we referring to Pep’s latest pitch-side fashion statement that sees the Barcelona boss dressing like a Mormon.

And LLL certainly isn’t suggesting that it too has a Freddie Mercury-style overbite.

Instead, LLL knows exactly what it is like to have to be consistently brilliant on a daily basis in order to keep millions of fans all over the world happy. However, unlike Barcelona, the blog has never had a ‘Hércules moment’ where standards were dropped to such a level that a team featuring Royston Drenthe was allowed to come away with all three points.

However, LLL - which is currently soaking up the sweat and fending off the pickpockets in the Catalan capital - can feel a sense of relief from the Camp Nou with Saturday’s defeat helping to reinforce the message that Pep Guardiola has been trying to deliver ever since he lead his side to the Treble.

It’s a message that has fallen time and time again on completely deaf ears - the notion that Barça may occasionally lose games and just because they do it doesn’t mean the club is in a full-on panic-stricken, Guti-doing-his-five-times-table, hand flapping crisis.

It was a noticeably cranky Guardiola on display at the press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash between Panathinaikos and his Dream Boys. “This was a defensive discourse,” noted J.M Artells in Mundo Deportivo. “He was paternalistic with his players.”

Mundo Deportivo’s main man was referring to Guardiola huffing that “maybe we’ll have the worst season in our history but it is impossible to have doubts over my players,” and Pep’s assertion that “I can’t promise a treble. We’ll do our best to beat Panathinaikos and see what happens.”

It was performance before the press that Sport enjoyed with Joan Vehils gurgling that “I always feel that Pep is more natural when he is hacked off”.

Joan’s paper - as to be expected - are fully behind the Dream Boys and are looking forward to the visit of the Greeks as a way to wipe Saturday’s Camp Nou calamity from the memory.

“Let the goals return!” trumpets Tuesday’s front cover over a photo of David Villa with the paper then heralding the start of “Operation Wembley 2.0” by hoping that Barça can repeat their 1992 Champions League final win in the same stadium - all be it, shifted to the side a bit. 

“What was won yesterday, isn’t worth anything today,” claims the calling for a clean slate Josep María Casanovas who will undoubtedly go back on his words whenever some emergency taunting of Real Madrid is required.

Squeezed into the middle pages of most of Tuesday’s papers, it’s Valencia and their return to the Champions League after two years and nine months of presidential problems and almost complete economic meltdown.

“It’s been too long,” notes Pedro Morata in AS. “From the end of the Soler era and all its consequences: Soriano, Dalport, economic warfare, the Valencia Generalitat saving the club...”

The Mestalla men are in Turkey and hoping to avoid a stuffing against Bursaspor. And in charge of picking up at least a point from the group-opening affair is Roberto Soldado, a striker who claims that “playing in the Champions League is the best thing a footballer can feel,” as Juan Mata cleared his voice noisily in the background  whilst fondling his World Cup medal.

LLL hopes that the former Getafe forward is a little more accurate on Tuesday night.

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