Why Barça's dressing room is like Las Vegas

Fortunately for Manolo Jiménez, La Liga Loca’s opinion holds very little sway with Sevilla’s big-wigs - or the big-wigs of any organisation you care to name - so the blog’s urgings for time to be called on their trainer’s tenure probably went unheard.

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However, the same does not apply to the Sevilla home support, who jeered and hankie-waved their manager off the pitch on Tuesday night as their feckless football team “did a Real Madrid” by being ejected from the Champions League before the party has really started.

The 2-1 defeat to CSKA Moscow that was provoked by Sevilla starting with just one striker and suffering an absolute howler from the normally dependable goalkeeper Andrés Palop sees Jiménez hanging onto his job by his goolies.

Whilst the Sevilla manager may well keep his car park space at the Sánchez Pizjuán until the end of the season, the time has surely come for a replacement to be found – although club president José Maria del Nido claimed that he was still standing by his man. Until June, at least.

“Jiménez will continue until end of season because he has a contract and because he has our confidence,” quoth Del Nido, without confidence.


Kanoute & Co. KOd

Sevilla’s sorry slip-up now leaves Barcelona as the last man standing from la Liga’s Champions League contingent. So the pressure is definitely on the holders with Stuttgart more than fancying their chances of grabbing a goal in the Camp Nou and Pep Guardiola showing yet more signs of cracking up.

Having aged 15 years in 15 months, the Dream Boys trainer has allowed his inner self to fall apart too with his uncharacteristic weekend rant over his sending-off during the Almería clash for dissent.

“The referee knows that he lied in the report,” said a stern-faced Pep, denying any wrongdoing. “He knows it. The assistant as well.”

The league’s competition committee are now thought to be opening an investigation on the affair, although Guardiola should not be too worried considering ‘opening an investigation’ in la Liga means burying the problem and hoping that it goes away - a favoured approach to dealing with match-fixing allegations.

Because of the staggered staging of this last 16 round of the Champions League, which has been been robbed of all footballing narrative by UEFA, there has been very little opportunity for pee-taking at Real Madrid’s expense in the Barcelona ranks due to their unfinished business against Stuttgart. And if there has been, the players certainly aren’t telling.

“What happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room,” said Rafa Marquéz when quizzed on the post-Lyon reaction in the Barça boot-room. “It’s like Las Vegas.”

Smugness is the theme of the day. Sport are up in their ivory tower of morality, with Wednesday’s front page mocking Marca’s Lyon-baiting approach to last week’s Champions League clash.

“We are not demanding a big score,” announces the paper. “We are not demanding that every title is won and we are not demanding that the side plays their final in the Bernabeu before the quarters” - all with front pages from their Madridista rival calling for the complete opposite.

“Madrid believed that the Olympique game was a done deal and in the end they cried blood,” writes the slightly over-stimulated Josep María Casanavos.

The message from Catalunya ahead of Wednesday’s game, which should see Barcelona comfortably passing through to the quarter-finals, is ‘Careful Now’.

Any other approach could see a very sorry situation for the Spanish league, indeed, with ‘doing a Real Madrid’ becoming a nation-wide craze.

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