Spain happy but see Real problems

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By FourFourTwo's guest columnist, Tim Stannard of La Liga Loca

Two years ago in the hot hot heat of Spain's doomed World Cup campaign, Marca ran a headline ahead of their second round clash with France warning Zinedine Zidane that Aragones' army would be 'retiring' the monk-like marvel that very night.

Legend goes that the previously feeble Frenchman took such umbrage to this taunt that he used it to inspire his country's charge to the final.

Marca have yet to learn their lesson.

On Saturday before Spain's group game against their Scandinavian opponents, the paper ran the by-line boasting that "the Swedes are afraid of Torres and Villa." In Marca talk this translated as "we are pooping our pants about Zlatan."

As it turned out, the paper was just seconds away from having to eat its footballing words before David Villa bailed it out with his last gasp strike.

Villa's late heroics spare Marca's blushes 

Whilst some areas of the press may be following in the foolish footsteps of the calamitous campaign of two years ago - especially TV channel Cuatro, who trailed all manner of anti-Swedish Ikea, ABBA themed taunts before the game - the locals are following a more cautious line.

In 2006, every Spanish success was celebrated as much as a free ham day would be. On Saturday night, the reaction to the hard fought win over their opponents was very low key indeed, similar to the ruminating reception given to their previous routing of the Russians.

AS are a tad concerned over the still-to-be-resolved problems in the Spanish defence and their peculiar love of ball watching. Sergio Ramos, in particular, has received a ribbing and a roasting for his blundering attempt to stop Zlatan's strike despite having a number of days to deal with the Swedish forward.

"That was not his only mistake," tutted the paper's editorial on Sunday with even Tomás Roncero admitting that the right back is "the shadow of the player who dazzled us for Real Madrid."

However, this has not stopped the crazed columnist predicting eventual glory for La Furia Roja - "with Sennas and Villas, we are on the path to the title," raved Roncero. 

In the same paper, the ever excellent Iñako Díaz-Guerra is still to be convinced by Fernando Torres' performances despite his opening goal and complained that Aragones is using a system that "seems to suit him as well as me wearing tight-fitting lycra."

Bernd Schuster, in Marca, was reasonably impressed by Saturday's game, a game where 'suffering' was the most commonly used word in all the post-partido ponderings.

"Spain's football is not spectacular, but it's serious, effective and has the luck necessary to win titles," wrote the Real Madrid coach who also criticised the midfield for playing "too many quick passes, almost without thinking."

Casillas and Ramos take the flak for soft Swedish leveller 

Over in Catalunya and the papers are still caught between mulling over which one of 76 different strikers Barcelona are going to buy and the goings on of Aragones' men.

Both Sport and Mundo Deportivo placed a celebrating Villa on their front covers along with urges for Laporta to buy him, as if the Valencia striker has come from nowhere to steal the Eurocopa show.

But Sport are following the more subdued line by pointing out that "the Swedes had them on the ropes in the first part of the match, reminiscent of the worst moments of the Luis Aragones era."

Although AS were keen to point out that it was three Barcelona players that were substituted on Saturday, it was the performances of the two Real Madrid players which should give them most cause for concern.

Ramos appears to be at his red card tempting worst, whilst Iker Casillas - although without too much to do so far in the tournament - failed when faced with Zlatan's less than forceful effort.

With most of the first team squad expected to be rested for the final match of the group stages, there is plenty of food for thought for Spain's football hungry press ahead of a possible date with the dastardly Italians.