Super build-up for Super Cup
The friendlies are all but over, the endless waffle and piffle concerning Cesc and Neymar have been banished to the inside pages, Karim Benzema has been reborn for the 15th time and Leo Messi is back in Barcelona ready to open another can of whup-ass on Real Madrid.
This is the state of play in the Spanish press just six days before what has been branded by one paper's rather feeble attempt at hype as Ã¢ÂÂthe most important Supercopa in 14 yearsÃ¢ÂÂ.
To be more accurate, it's six days until the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, with MondayÃ¢ÂÂs Marca cover starting the countdown. To Marca's mind (such as it is), Madrid very much have the upper hand after a pre-season that has seen seven wins from seven against tough sides such as Leicester City and Tiajin Teda.
WhatÃ¢ÂÂs more, a feeble, floppy Barcelona can only boast two victories from their six games with a genuinely concerned Pep Guardiola complaining that Ã¢ÂÂbefore we had pre-seasons; now we do tours.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂEvery player knows almost from memory what has to be done against Barcelona in the first leg,Ã¢ÂÂ claims Marca. In KakÃÂ¡Ã¢ÂÂs case that will be the simple task of sitting on the bench for 90 minutes, claim AS, who award the only negative rating of the pre-season to the Brazilian forward.
AS are instead oozing over Karim Benzema, who appears to have eaten significantly fewer pies over the summer Ã¢ÂÂ something noticed by France coach Laurent Blanc Ã¢ÂÂ and begun running about a bit. This change of tack has coincided with eight goals, a clear indication of the 45 the Frenchman is set to score this season.
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In the Barcelona press, the only crumb of comfort after a few flat weeks on the pitch is Alexis and Leo Messi arriving in the Catalan capital for a week of training Ã¢ÂÂ which will be largely done alone, as the teamÃ¢ÂÂs Spain contingent head off for a ridiculously-timed friendly with Italy. Ã¢ÂÂOn Thursday, weÃ¢ÂÂll all be together for the first time and weÃ¢ÂÂll see how we are ahead of the Madrid game,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted Guardiola.
Elsewhere, AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid eased past their Europa League pre pre pre-qualifying clash against Stromsgodset Ã¢ÂÂ but they now face a match against Vitoria de Guimaraes with just AdriÃÂ¡n up front, what with Diego Costa out for six months and Diego ForlÃÂ¡n off on his holidays. Rumours at the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n are still linking the club with EspanyolÃ¢ÂÂs Osvaldo and Villarreal's Giuseppe Rossi, but both transfers are going to be tough ones.
Zaragoza continue to make a mockery of the administration system in Spain by signing goalkeeper Roberto for Ã¢ÂÂ¬8.6m despite having a debt of nearly Ã¢ÂÂ¬100m, including Ã¢ÂÂ¬92,000 owed to the returning keeper himself from a previous spell at the club.
And in terrible news for the blog and a league still reeling from the loss of Kun AgÃÂ¼ero, another fine striker in Javier Arizmendi has abandoned Spanish shores by leaving Getafe and joining JoaquÃÂn CaparrÃÂ³s at Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax, where the forwardÃ¢ÂÂs talent of not scoring ever should be perfect for a team currently sitting at the bottom of the league.