Barca transfer news
Edmilson says that he's ready to leave if the club want him to, with Marseille a possible destination. He also has some sober insights about the Liga finale.
Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon denies reports that the Saviola deal is done. I really hope he's right, here. This move would be the worst possible outcome, from my perspective.
Undeterred by the angry response from Lyon which greeted Barca's rather low offer for Abidal, we have enquired after Tiago instead, according to the French club. Not sure about this idea. I see what they're trying to do, and yes we do need a defensive midfielder, but we don't need another Motta, as much as I love him. What we do need is someone like Edgar Davids in his prime, who had such an effect when he was signed 3 years ago. (I keep saying we need a Frank Rijkaard, really, but where are we going to get that?) What little I've seen of Tiago doesn't give me much confidence that he's the one we're after. Surely we can spare some cash for such an important position.
Eto'o's not going anywhere, like I keep saying. AC Milan can stop trying to unsettle him any minute now...any minute now. Great friendship between the two clubs and all that. Really.
Title race updates
For those of you who are not living and dying by this title race, the fixtures for the last week of La Liga are:
Real v Mallorca
'Nastic vs Barca
Sevilla v Villarreal
As the table stands now: Madrid 73, Barca 73, Sevilla 71
Differences are decided by head to head results, which are as follows: Madrid 5 - 3 Barca, Barca 4-3 Sevilla, Madrid 4 - 4 Sevilla (Sevilla has the superior goal difference)
Related news items
"The single motive of my life is to defeat Barça." - 'Nastic coach Paco Flores gets just a little carried away. I know they don't like us there, but that's a bit much, isn't it?
Sevilla's Chevanton is not happy about the refereeing, which he says has affected Sevilla's title changes. No doubt he's right, and if the bias towards the big two, especially at home, didn't exist Sevilla would probably have an easier time of it. Although to be fair they've blown their chances almost as many times as Barca have this season. No matter what happens, I think they're going to be my team of the season, just for their accomplishments thus far, which are no mean feat given the domination of the established old order in European football.
Barca 'keeper Victor Valdes (who has had an excellent season, really) still believes in the remote possibility of the blaugranas coming out on top.
The ever-wise Raul says that nobody should believe that the title is already won and urges caution ahead of their game. The Madridista media, for one, don't seem to have heard him, but fair enough given the circumstances.
In related news, Calderon denies celebrating winning the league one game early. Again, I can understand why he was excited - I would have been, too, and as the media are saying, they've got 9 fingers on the trophy. Just one more week. You've waited 3 years (which is I believe about the same length of time as Barca's last drought), surely that's not difficult?
The ever-sensible Juande Ramos of Sevilla isn't too happy about Real's celebrations, but still thinks they'll probably win it. I really like Ramos. He's a good manager who just gets on with the job and is always diplomatic.
The Brazilian national team are adamant that Robinho report for international duty instead of staying for Real's game.
Diarra, on the other hand, is ready to abandon club for country to play for Mali in their crucial qualifer for the African Cup of Nations.
On the other hand, Eto'o's not going to play for Cameroon, but they're doing pretty well anyway with 12 points from 4 games, so unlike Mali they don't have much to worry about. He also has some harsh but very pertinent words regarding the Liga finale in the article linked above.
Just as an aside, I have to say, this entire mess where as many as 27 players could be missing from their final game because of international commitments can be entirely blamed on the ineptitude of the LFP (the Spanish FA). Nice scheduling, guys.
Update: Real claim that they have made deals with both Diarra and Robinho's national federations that will allow them to play in the last round. Dunga still doesn't sound happy, though.
Gudjohnsen has been ruled out for Barca with a knee injury. On the Real side, David Beckham's ankle is still giving him problems and he is racing to be fit.
Controversial Spanish NT coach Luis Aragones wants Barca to win the title. Aragones used to coach both Barca and Real's opponents Mallorca (not at the same time, obviously), where he had a stormy but ultimately successful working relationship with a certain Cameroonian striker with the first name Samuel, who calls him 'grandpa'. Anyway, I really don't know what to add to this weird bit of news. Some part of me wants to say that it's really inappropriate for Aragones to comment on this issue, as there are players from all three title-chasing clubs in his national team and there have been enough controversies over selections and who gets to rest ahead of their club matches as it is. But then I suppose he's free to say whatever comes to his mind, as his record shows. So thanks, Luis - I think.
Barca striker Maxi Lopez, who is on loan at Mallorca, has vowed to do his best to help Barca win the title. That is rather sweet of him, and I dare say that if he manages it his own stock will rise amongst those in charge at the Camp Nou. Talk is easy, but the sentiment is definitely appreciated. Vamos Maxi!
Edited to add: updates on a few of the news items above