Raúl’s return brings muted response in Madrid

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In any normal, functioning, right-thinking dimension, the return of Raúl to Spanish shores for the first time since heading off to Schalke would have produced the journalistic equivalent of marching bands and nudey cheerleaders in the Madridista Marca with ‘el Gran Capitán’ popping into Valencia’s Mestalla stadium for Tuesday’s Champions League clash.

However, la Liga is the most unusual place where up is down, down is up and Ricardo Carvalho looks good - and this sees Raúl’s return pushed to page 15 in Tuesday’s edition. The reason is that the former Madrid number seven was never Florentino Pérez’ most bestest buddy because of the pull the forward possessed in the dressing room and his popularity with fans. And what Florentino doesn’t like, doesn’t tend to appear in his favourite paper.

This presidential grudge isn’t a problem for AS, though, who still harbour a soft spot for the grumpy old so-and-so and dedicate the front and inside pages to Raúlo’s Champions League challenge against Valencia. “Raúl is the enemy, but a friendly enemy,” notes the paper’s editor, Alfredo Relaño.

Raúl’s Bundesliga team - which also contains other la Liga outcasts such as José Jurado, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Christophe Metzelder - have a testing time in store for them on the Spanish east coast, with opponents Valencia in the dinkiest run of form with five wins from six in la Primera. But the former Madrid captain doesn’t think that this will hurt Schalke’s chances too much.

"What? Page 15? Seriously...!?"

“It’s a ground that has been good to me,” recalled Raúl fondly, “I hope to score again.” Unai Emery was less keen to take a tootle down memory lane observing that “Raúl makes this game a big one but there are other footballers too.”

Tuesday’s match heralds the second day of duty of the week for those loving a bit of Spanish sauce in their football. The first was on Monday in la Liga when Mallorca ended Athletic’s run of four wins to pick up a 1-0 victory in the Balearics to leave the dishy Dane’s men in tenth and on 31 points, one place and one point above poor old Atlético.

On the subject of flippin’ awful teams in dire straits, Osasuna have confirmed their decision to sack José Antonio Camacho, just two weeks after he lead his team to a 1-0 win over Real Madrid. The problem for the former Madrid manager is that the victory was Osasuna’s only three-point pick up in eleven. The club’s most recent defeat was a 1-0 reverse to Real Sociedad on Sunday which left the Pamplona side in the relegation zone and still without an away win.

Despite this rather dismal record, Camacho was rather peeved by his sacking, spluttering that “I’m sad as they haven’t let me get on with my job, and I have to say good bye to some good friends.”

“It was the right moment to make the change,” countered Osasuna president, Pachi Izco.

Camacho suffered at a club where not all the fans were behind him due to his Madridista past and which appears to be steadily declining and becoming creakier by the day. The new manager who has to keep the Pamplonans in la Primera is José Luis Mendilibar, last seen getting sacked by Valladolid. LLL is not entirely sure that he is going to be successful in his task.