Picnics, paella and premature praise

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With three, long, painful weeks to go to the start of the footie season, the Spanish sporty press have gone Olympic Games crazy. And frankly Mr Shankly, who can blame them?

Instead of filling their front covers with the wholly tedious and mercifully short-lived Robinho-to-Chelsea story on Monday, it's a fencer biting into a bronze medal - an odd trophy-eating craze that Rafa Nadal appears to have started.

How much coverage afforded to an EPO'd up Spanish cyclist being the first to fail a drugs test - fancy that - will be interesting to see in Tuesday's press.

A lot more than any football stories considering there is next to nothing going on. A bit of a problem for a footie-based blog for the world's greatest, most famous and most tingling football magazine. So it's back to the Olympics.

Jose Luis Abayo bags bronze in Beijing

There are some in Madrid who are now secretly rather chuffed that they don't have to try and top China's rather spiffing opening ceremony after their failed 2012 bid. Instead, it's a quandary the bods in London now face.

La Liga Loca recommends setting Amy Winehouse on fire and blasting her out of cannon to light the flame as a freebie suggestion.

Sadly, in four years time, the watching world won't be able to bear witness to the stunning site of hundreds of flamenco dancers being hurled around on wires or the building of a stadium sized paella - two dead certs for any opening ceremony in Madrid.

The Spanish have an admirable love of building enormous rice-based dishes. This weekend alone, La Liga Loca watched a news report of one world record winning effort that had creaky old battle-axes queuing for hours in the sun just to shove some free food down into their toothless mouths.

You may have guessed that the blog possesses a long-held fear and dislike of the queue-jumping, five-in-a-row walking, fur coat wearing Spanish granny or 'abuela'.

Winehouse: London 2012 flame thrower? 

But onto footie. A phone call from Real Madrid has both AS and Marca jumping to attention and in fine kiss-arse action over Rafael Van der Vaart, the greatest signing in Real Madrid's history since Wesley Sneijder, Robinho, David Beckham...

Just 45 minutes of a friendly in Colombia has a flustered AS gushing that "it was his performance in Euro 2008 that helped convince the Madrid trainers to sign him."

Performances of such infinite high quality that AS handed him zero, one and two stars out of three in the games the Dutch midfielder featured in.

The man now tiresomely known as "the tulip from Chiclana" - except by this grumpy blog - also gets the star treatment in Marca who award him 10 out of 10 in their Monday top 10 chart.

Van der Vaart dons Real's colours in Colombia 

"It's clear that Rafa is a great signing," sighs the paper. Sir Alex comes second bottom, incidentally, for not letting Ronaldo move and being a bit narky to Real Madrid. And this puts the Manchester United boss just one place above a drugs test failing cyclist. French, this time, for a change.

Getafe had a fine time over the weekend at a football match / picnic which no doubt has Maniche salivating with envy. The Spanish side were in Holland on a pre-season tour and arranged a match against what turned out to be a Maasduinen XI - a sturdy village side that had never played with each other before and in a game officiated by two linesmen in their 50s and 60s.

Marca pictures two players enjoying a sandwich or two at half time at the neighbouring picnic site before giving their hosts a sound 8-0 thrashing. "A record victory!" squeals the paper.

It's going to be a long, long, long three weeks.