There's hardly any enthusiasm about Florentino Pérez remaining as Real president so he will buy popularity in the usual way - by spending oodles of cash this summer...
Atletico Madrid's Copa Del Rey win over Real on Friday wasn't just about short-term glory, says Tim Stannard, but a chance to build for better things ahead...
Aside from the weather, train system and entire concept of Lincolnshire, you really don't know how lucky you are in England. When it comes to football anyway. There's a whole bunch of fun topics to keep the loons/much-loved readers writing into the Football365 mailbox for decades to come - whither Roberto Mancini? Do Arsenal smell more than Spurs?Rafa Benítez is a meanie-head? Liverpool - what's all that about? What's the point of Aston Villa? And so on and so on.
To be fair, in Spain there are loads of stories each weekend to have people yelling at each other quite merrily -despite being about 50 centimetres apart - over their morning coffees but only two teams will ever be the centre of attention. On Sunday night, Real Sociedad and Betis served up a 3-3 corker that left both managers delighted with the affair despite their respective teams shipping quite a lot of goals. Then again, both managers in the awful goalless draw between Espanyol and Valladolid were equally as chirpy.
Your correspondent's local haunt is buried deep in Atlético Madrid territory, a neighbourhood in a general state of disrepair and urchins constantly nicking the street light cabling testifies to that. Despite the Rojiblancos currently residing in second place in la Primera with a Copa del Rey final berth, the two Clásicos in five days and two wins for Real Madrid was all that mattered this weekend in the café, the kind of place that suffered badly with the smoking ban, in that the musty tobacco smell masked whiffs of a much more offensive nature. "They have no f-ing idea how to play football, they are f-ing boring," was the stark opinion of the owner on the topic of Barcelona after Saturday's 2-1 defeat to the Catalan club in the Santiago Bernabéu, the kind of debate sadly missing from Match of the Day.
The Big Two Teams in Spain only have Two Big Issues - who is better than the other and who has the best player in the world. Statistics would suggest Barcelona at the moment, considering the Camp Nou club still have a 13-point lead over third-placed Real Madrid in la Primera despite losing limply on Saturday afternoon. Barça would argue that form, no matter how bad, is temporary and that class is permanent.
'Pish and tish' say Real Madrid supporters. Just because previously unmotivated players could barely lift a finger of effort in defeats to Betis, Sevilla, Getafe and Málaga or draws against Osasuna, it doesn't mean that the current league champions aren't still the Top Cats of Spain.
After all, Real Madrid have won three and lost just one of the six Clásicos this season and have just a single defeat in the past eight. Heck, even a line-up with Alvaro Morata and José Callejón on the flanks and Michael Essien at right-back managed to beat a near-full-strength Barcelona on Saturday. 'The whole world has seen the changing of the guard,' boasted chief Madridista Tomás Roncero in Sunday's edition of AS.
Euphoria and a sense of invincibility is the prevailing mood in one part of the Spanish capital going into Tuesday's Champions League clash. 'White Ecstasy' yelled Marca's front page on Sunday, in reference perhaps to what a lot of the paper's journalists appear to be on these days. This is entirely natural, as that's how Barcelona and Real Madrid tend to react to victories against each other, due to an incredibly narrow, parochial world view. 'You the Worst, therefore Me the best,' is the general philosophy between the supporters of the two clubs. If Real Madrid are so much better that Barcelona at the moment, it therefore signifies that team is considerably stronger than the English league leaders. Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey after a first leg 1-1 draw, so why can't the side do it again?
The first point to make is that Barça are a shadow of themselves these days. Real Madrid barely had to make any effort on a slumbering Saturday afternoon in a match that didn't see a yellow card until the 52nd minute and had no offsides. Manchester United look like a side in fairly strutting form after a 4-0 win over Norwich and four clean sheets in a row in the league, unlike the worryingly leaky Barcelona.
And then there was the general air of happiness of Sir Alex Ferguson after the draw in the Santiago Bernabéu. Whilst José Mourinho made all the right purring noises in regards to the chances of scoring in Old Trafford, the waves of happiness from the Manchester United boss that could be felt some ten metres away were enough to suggest that the Scotsman, whilst not being complacent, was incredibly comfortable with the notion that the result in Madrid was enough to see United through to the quarter-finals.
Real Madrid do have enough in the locker to suggest that the team are quite capable of overcoming their opponents at Old Trafford - Cristiano Ronaldo is in mesmeric form and Mesut Özil is looking pretty good too, despite the peculiar eyebrows. Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos is a fine defensive duo, whilst the counter-attacking power of Madrid is going to be unleashed on at least a couple of occasions, despite United's attempts to avoid the scenario.
The key message to broadcast to some areas of the Madridista world, though, is that whilst two wins in a week against Barcelona is hardly a bad thing in terms of confidence, it is little help against considerably more challenging opponents than the current Barcelona.
Round 26 Results
Getafe 2-0 Zaragoza
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
Osasuna 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Valencia 2-2 Levante
Deportivo 0-0 Rayo Vallecano
Granada 1-2 Mallorca
Espanyol 0-0 Valladolid
Málaga 0-0 Atlético Madrid
Real Sociedad 3-3 Betis
Sevilla v Celta (Monday night)
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter
Does Stannard live in Embajadores? this is my current location, in Atleti territory with enough homeless people to fill the Calderon.- rojibird