"Visca Catalunya! Unless it’s raining...”

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You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, La Liga Loca is telling you why...

...cos Joan Laporta will smack you over the back of the head with a bottle of Cava, bundle you into a van, drive you to the Camp Nou and make you sit through Tuesday night’s Catalunya vs Argentina clash.

The reason why the Barcelona president may be taking such drastic action ahead of the friendly between a cobbled-together rabble who will never play a major role in international football in the near future... and Catalunya, is that ticket sales have been somewhat poor for the game with just 30-40,000 local crazies expected at the region’s flagship event.

“The players are fairly disappointed, most of all the Barcelona ones,” sighed Johan Cruyff, the lucky coach for the home side, on the less-than-titillating turnout.

“They're not playing for money, just pride, and it’s a shame that the public don’t share the same attitude,” continued the Camp Nou kingmaker before adding with a shrug: “Perhaps it’s not worth the effort.”

At time of writing, there's still a few hours to go for local fans to pluck up the enthusiasm for an evening spent watching the likes of Lady Gago and the returning loon Oleguer booting a ball about, trying not to get injured and wishing that they were up to their chins in fann... floosies like rest of their footballing colleagues in this special festive, family time.

So far, Laporta has been as silent on the affair as Diego Maradona - although the latter doesn’t really have much choice on the matter - but did remind the world on Monday that he had “presided over the best period in Barcelona’s history,” which is always good to know.

The Madrid press, on the other hand, have been keeping local fans up to date with the thoughts of Manuel Pellegrini.

Marca pestered the Third-Choice Chilean on Monday as he headed off to Santiago for his Christmas holidays and got his opinions on the title race and Madrid’s progress so far this season.

And AS were present and correct at the other end to check if his musings on those matters had changed significantly during his transatlantic trip.

From what La Liga Loca can ascertain, there has been no significant shift in Pellegrini’s stances.

Preferring their Three Kings at the beginning of January to Santa Claus, Spain doesn’t really get into the Christmas spirit as much as other countries.

For example, La Liga Loca has no idea what the Christmas No.1 is, although it guesses that it probably isn’t very good.

However, Almería are trying to kick off a new tradition by sacking their manager come Yuletide time.

The fun started in 2008 with the firing of Gonzalo Arconada and it has been continued a year later, with Hugo Sánchez being given some special stuffing after 363 days in charge.

Despite having lost the services and 19 league goals of Alvaro Negredo and their two flying full-backs, not to mention having newly-purchased midfield linchpin Fabian Vargas out for the season, it seems that Almería president Alfonso García feels that his club should have been pushing for the European places, rather than lying fourth from bottom.

But, having a bit of time on his hands over the next week or so, the Almería boss will be hunting high and low for a new mug to fire in a year’s time with the likes of Luis Fernández, or even Diego Simeone, being lined up to take up the newly-vacated spot on the Almería ejector seat.

Another club still looking for a new coach is Real Zaragoza, who have announced that their players will be the first to arrive back from Christmas holidays for training, on December 26.

Except some of them may not even be required to unpack their pressies, with AS reporting that Ayala, Ewerthon, López Vallejo and our very own Jermaine Pennant are set to be sold in January, having offered as much to the Zaragoza cause over the past five months as Maniche to an abstinence campaign.


Well, that’s yer lot from La Liga Loca until after Christmas when it will return bigger and better (probably not, actually) with the Quotes of 2009...

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