Will Barça stumble against Stuttgart?
Cunning old goat that he is, Pep Guardiola has lowered expectations to such an extent that a Jens Lehmann hat-trick in a 3-0 defeat against Stuttgart on Tuesday would be a fine result for his Dream Boys.
The Barcelona bossÃ¢ÂÂ press conferences post-Racing and pre-Stuttgart have contained more shrugs, sulks, tuts, and monosyllabic responses than La Liga Loca trying to explain the offside rule.
AS may have praised BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂinsulting superiorityÃ¢ÂÂ over SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs Cantabrian opponents, but Guardiola was having none of it Ã¢ÂÂ grumbling that the side Ã¢ÂÂlacked rhythmÃ¢ÂÂ in the 4-0 win, gave the ball away too easily and were still in their apathetic AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid funk.
PepÃ¢ÂÂs complaints have been echoed by Barcelona ÃÂ¼bermeister Johan Cruyff, who joins in what sports journalists love to describe as Ã¢ÂÂmind gamesÃ¢ÂÂ and writes in El PeriÃÂ³dico that the Racing performance was Ã¢ÂÂthe worst under Pep Guardiola.Ã¢ÂÂ
The Dutchman sniffs that only one of the goals was fully deserved - that of Rafa MÃÂ¡rquez - as the others were either defensive errors from Racing or a jammy deflection in ThiagoÃ¢ÂÂs case.
Ã¢ÂÂPep did appear to be the only culÃÂ© who was not happy with the 4-0,Ã¢ÂÂ notes Joan Battle in Sport, responding to CruyffÃ¢ÂÂs criticism. Ã¢ÂÂThe players have been warned.Ã¢ÂÂ
Alexander Hleb, currently on loan at Stuttgart and enjoying another stunning post-Arsenal campaign of 19 league starts and zero goals, says that his current team have about a Ã¢ÂÂ10% chanceÃ¢ÂÂ against Barcelona.
Jens Lehmann, meanwhile, is quite certain that the German side will prevail on the perfectly legitimate grounds that they are... well... German.
The goalkeeperÃ¢ÂÂs expected inclusion in StuttgartÃ¢ÂÂs starting line-up has allowed Spanish TV to put together his best blunders over the years and his infamous in-match comfort break - all to a Charlie Chaplin-style soundtrack - ensuring that mad Lens is sure to play a blinder against Barcelona.
Over in Capital City the obsession with all things Cristiano Ronaldo shows no sign of going away anytime soon.
La Liga Loca once asked a friend whether he thought a Spanish player could be openly gay in La Liga. His response was to literally shudder, shake his head in horror and declare that there is not a cheesecakeÃ¢ÂÂs chance in ManicheÃ¢ÂÂs fridge that any Spanish footballer could ever be gay. Ever.
This is certainly not the case with SpainÃ¢ÂÂs football journalists who collectively have the biggest of man crushes of Real MadridÃ¢ÂÂs Portuguese ponce.
(And for the purposes of full disclosure, La Liga LocaÃ¢ÂÂs own metrosexual obsessions in recent years have been Fabio Cannavaro, Pep Guardiola and a current worryingly weird thing for JoaquÃÂn CaparrÃÂ³s).
AS have plastered a graphic of Ronaldo in TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs edition with a detailed muscle-by-muscle breakdown of the forwardÃ¢ÂÂs physical supremacy, with particular attention afforded to his groin.
Ã¢ÂÂI call it Ã¢ÂÂThe TomahawkÃ¢ÂÂ,Ã¢ÂÂ says the paperÃ¢ÂÂs headline with Ronaldo discussing the name of his free-kick against Villarreal. But it could well refer to something completely different and just as precious to the Portuguese player.
Ã¢ÂÂEvery day, his presence grows,Ã¢ÂÂ sighs TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs Marca as it skips through fields of petals. Ã¢ÂÂReal Madrid have found in Cristiano Ronaldo a legendary footballer."
His other Ã¢ÂÂlegendaryÃ¢ÂÂ attributes of being preening, pouting, self-centred, sulky and to teamwork what JesÃÂºs Navas is to travel-writing grew ever stronger too on Monday, with footage broadcast of Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso squabbling over who would take the penalty with Madrid 5-2 up.
Ã¢ÂÂCris, let me take it,Ã¢ÂÂ pleaded the Spanish midfielder, Ã¢ÂÂI havenÃ¢ÂÂt scored yet.Ã¢ÂÂ
Eventually, Ronaldo relented, pouted like nobodyÃ¢ÂÂs business, walked off in a huff and ignored AlonsoÃ¢ÂÂs goal celebrations after he successfully converted the spot-kick.
CR9 Ã¢ÂÂ loved by the fans, adored by the media, hated by his team-mates. Except KakÃÂ¡, probably.
FourFourTwo.com: More to read...
Spain: La Liga Loca * Statistics * News
FFT.com: Blogs * News * Interviews * Forums * Home
Follow us: Twitter * Facebook * Twitter (LaLigaLoca)