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Smug cloud engulfs Barcelona, but Ronaldo is winning his war with Messi

There are times when La Liga Loca is quite glad it doesnâÂÂt live in Barcelona, despite its beach and all that Gaudi architecture stuff. This week is one of those occasions. And not just because of the hell of la Rambla or the rats on the city's metro system. Or the humidity in the summer. Or the pickpockets.

ItâÂÂs because the blog has noticed in the local news from the Catalan capital that a huge cloud of choking smug is currently hanging over the city, forcing authorities to advise all non-Barça fans - and especially those donâÂÂt like football at all - to remain indoors for the sake of their own health.

Failure to follow these warnings apparently could result in severe damage to mental wellbeing, with transgressors being set upon and held for hours by hordes of grinning, gurning, gurgling culés desperate to brag about the brilliance of the Camp Nou club.

Levels of smugness were already nearing dangerous levels after the 5-0 win for PepâÂÂs Dream Boys over Real Madrid, but they were just about within UN standards. Unfortunately, that barrier was breached on Monday when it was announced that the FIFA / Ballon dâÂÂOr shortlist had been whittled down to three Barça players who were all brought up in the clubâÂÂs âÂÂcanteratâ youth system.

Andrés Iniesta, Leo Messi and Xavi Hernández were all pictured together on the front covers of both culé crazy papers the morning after, with Mundo Deportivo blasting âÂÂMasia Mundial!â and Sport plumping for tâÂÂHistorical Barça!âÂÂ

The situation worsened on Wednesday after a Barca side featuring no fewer than seven starters from the cantera defeated Rubin Kazan 2-0 at the Camp Nou, prompting Mundo Deportivo to brag about an âÂÂhomage to La Masiaâ and shout âÂÂViva la Masia!âÂÂ

âÂÂThe cantera doesnâÂÂt stopâ claims the front cover of Sport with a very stroppy sounding Lluís Mascaró attacking the Madrid-based press - Marca in particular - for claiming that the Ballon dâÂÂOr nominations were a âÂÂvictory for Spanish football.âÂÂ

âÂÂSpanish football will not win any prize...because it doesnâÂÂt deserve to. Barça will win it. Xavi, Iniesta and Messi being the three candidates is a success for Barça, for its style, its philosophy and its model as a club,â squeals Mascaro, âÂÂItâÂÂs a victory for the cantera, for La Masia...â and so on and so on with overpowering clouds of smug pouring out of the Sport columnistâÂÂs keyboard.

All the Madridista papers have to keep them going in their slightly darker post Clásico hour is the notion that Cristiano Ronaldo has scored one more league goal than Leo Messi - two if you read Marca.

âÂÂRonaldo is beating Messi in his own war,â boasted AS on Monday, referring to this all important battle which means so much to the Real Madrid man that the forward only remembers to celebrate his goals with the rest of the teammates a minute or two after he has finished doing laps of the pitch with his arms outstretched like a big eejit.

Indeed, this is one of the reasons given for SportâÂÂs claim on Tuesday that most of the Madrid squad - especially the Spaniards - canâÂÂt stand the preening Portuguese player.

The front cover of WednesdayâÂÂs AS is all with the Ronaldo love, once again, by yelling that the player âÂÂnever stopsâÂÂ. LLL presumes that boast is relation to football as âÂÂCR7â is due to play against Auxerre on Wednesday night in MadridâÂÂs Champions League clash despite being one booking away from a suspension, rather than an activity involving the words âÂÂstaringâÂÂ, âÂÂmirrorâ and âÂÂall dayâÂÂ.

The match at the Bernabeu against their French opponents is a bit of a dead rubber with first place already secured for the Spaniards, but Auxerre can still qualify for the joys of the Europa League if they better AjaxâÂÂs result against AC Milan.

Despite there still being something to play for, it is set to be a bit of a fringe player line-up for Madrid with Jerzy Dudek expected to start just his 10th game in three-and-a-half seasons at Castle Greyskull.

Over in England, SpainâÂÂs third Champions League side, Valencia, put on a fine performance in Old Trafford with Pablo Hernández becoming the first player to score against Manchester United in the competition, this year. Unfortunately, an equaliser from Anderson saw the men from Mestalla finishing the group in second, but being very much an outfit to avoid in the draw for the knock-out stages on December 17th.

The one downer on an excellent evening for Unai Emery was the grumpy reaction from the goalscorer, Pablo, at being substituted. However, the Valencia coach didnâÂÂt seem to be too fussed by his frustrated footballer. âÂÂItâÂÂs normal that they get angry when they not playing,â shrugged Emery. Especially at a club where the footballers are notoriously moody even when they are seeing a bit of action.