Real Madrid begin hunt for La Décima. Again.
The Champions League only really starts for LLL when the blog reads the annual Ã¢ÂÂReal Madrid are going for La DÃÂ©cima!Ã¢ÂÂ headlines in the local papers.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a call to arms for MadridÃ¢ÂÂs 10th European Cup crown which has been running since 2002 and has become a fun September tradition alongside the advertisements encouraging newly-enthused Spaniards returning from their holidays to learn a new language, take up embroidery or collect ghastly figurines so beloved by the nationÃ¢ÂÂs evil grannies.
To be fair, most of these new hobbies last about as long as Real MadridÃ¢ÂÂs standard Champions League campaigns. But all that changed last season when the mighty side from Mordor made it through to the semi-finals, so perhaps there was extra gusto in TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs edition of Marca when it screamed Ã¢ÂÂThe Dream of La DÃÂ©cima!Ã¢ÂÂ from its front cover.
AS picked up this beacon of hope on Wednesday, sticking a photo of Pepe and Carvalho arriving in Zagreb sporting big smiles. Ã¢ÂÂHappy faces about La DÃÂ©cima!Ã¢ÂÂ beamed the paper - tiny face in PepeÃ¢ÂÂs case - although LLL suspects the centre-back had just heard the news that his Portuguese colleague was suspended from playing for his country for a year. Ã¢ÂÂSweeeeeeet,Ã¢ÂÂ was the thought LLL suspects was going through PepeÃ¢ÂÂs mind to the tune of the Magic Roundabout.
That's right Cristiano - Madrid are looking for a TENTH European crown
The paper reports that since JosÃÂ© Mourinho no longer wants the press flying with the team on trips, 18 supporters were on MadridÃ¢ÂÂs stealth jet to Croatia on Tuesday. However, AS assures readers that Ã¢ÂÂsecurity made sure no-one from outside the team went up front to ask the players for photos or autographs.Ã¢ÂÂ LLL shudders to think of the consequences of that.
Antonio Romero, writing in WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs edition, has a good feeling about this year and reveals that Ã¢ÂÂCristiano smells La DÃÂ©cima.Ã¢ÂÂ LLL suspects that the forward smells Karim Benzema, who is sweating for the first time in his football life, but the blog is not going to poop AntonioÃ¢ÂÂs party. Ã¢ÂÂHe knows Madrid signed him to be decisive in the big Champions League games and at the moment he has a debt. Today the path begins for the new Cristiano to cancel the debt.Ã¢ÂÂ
That path begins without JosÃÂ© Mourinho, who is continuing to serve a UEFA touchline ban. The Madrid manager is expected to stay behind at the team hotel but his number two, Aitor Karanka, revealed that no decision had be made as to MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs location for the game. LLL suspects heÃ¢ÂÂll either be sipping brandy, sprawled in a giant leather swivel chair in an airship hovering menacingly over the ground, or lying by the side of the pitch having painted himself green.
It probably wonÃ¢ÂÂt have escaped everyoneÃ¢ÂÂs attention that BarÃÂ§a blew it big style against AC Milan in the Camp Nou on Tuesday, conceding an equaliser in the final seconds of their clash with the Serie A side. However, the Thiago Silva header at least had a pleasing symmetrical feel to it, with BarÃÂ§a conceding in the opening seconds of their game too.
While AS claim that Ã¢ÂÂBarÃÂ§a have a problem, a serious problem,Ã¢ÂÂ and Marca scoff that PepÃ¢ÂÂs Dream Boys Ã¢ÂÂcanÃ¢ÂÂt do it with a dinosaurÃ¢ÂÂ - a problem that the soon-to-be-husband of the ancient Duquesa de Alba is about to experience - Pep Guardiola is less concerned. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm not worried,Ã¢ÂÂ soothed the BarÃÂ§a boss. Ã¢ÂÂIf people are, weÃ¢ÂÂll try to make them less worried. I have no doubts.Ã¢ÂÂ
Pep looking not at all concerned or worried during last night's draw...
There is certainly an air of concern in the Catalan press on Wednesday morning, with SportÃ¢ÂÂs Josep MarÃÂa Casanovas - the same writer who claimed AC Milan would pay big time on Tuesday night - moaning that Ã¢ÂÂBarcelona had a sensational AugustÃ¢ÂÂ but have become a team that have Ã¢ÂÂtripped on the same stone twice in September.Ã¢ÂÂ
His chest-thumping colleague, LluÃÂs MascarÃÂ³, has come out swinging and writes that Ã¢ÂÂBarcelona have nothing to prove. Over the past three years they have earned infinite creditÃ¢ÂÂ - not unlike Real MadridÃ¢ÂÂs relationship with banks, LLL notes.
Mundo DeportivoÃ¢ÂÂs headline is Ã¢ÂÂTuesday 13thÃ¢ÂÂ with the traditionally bad day being a little different in Spain. The paperÃ¢ÂÂs approach is a little more doomy and gloomy with Santi Nolla writing that BarÃÂ§a have Ã¢ÂÂlost motivation and humility. Little has been learned from the 2-2 in Anoeta.Ã¢ÂÂ
It was also not a particularly good night for Valencia, who endured a goalless draw with Genk after SpainÃ¢ÂÂs very own tinker man, Unai Emery, once again messed with the Mestalla menÃ¢ÂÂs system.
ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs neighbours Villarreal will be kicking off their Champions League campaign on Wednesday with an intriguing home clash against Bayern Munich. However, Juan GarridoÃ¢ÂÂs men will be struggling for space in ThursdayÃ¢ÂÂs papers with Madrid having begun their hunt for la DÃÂ©cima. Again.