at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Madrid - The media in Madrid went into overdrive on Sunday in their praise for Real Madrid, who on Saturday won 2-1 at defending champions Barcelona.
Real's win in the Camp Nou virtually guarantees the whites their first Liga title since 2008, at the same time as putting them in good heart ahead of Wednesday's Champions League showdown against Bayern Munich (Real need to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg).
“Real Madrid were simply wonderful last night,” commented Radio Marca on Sunday, “strong in defence, creative in midfield and devastating in attack.”
Cadena COPE, meanwhile, said that “it is practically impossible” for Barca to now win a fourth straight league title, because they are seven points behind Real with just four matches left.
Real's win was front-page news in every Spanish newspaper on Sunday.
Two men have been singled out by the Madrid media for special praise: coach Jose Mourinho and star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Mourinho has given Real a winning mentality,” commented sports daily AS,”something that was missing at the club for several years.”
AS added that Mourinho's “occasional bad manners” should be forgiven because he has done what club president Florentino Perez bought him in to do, at great expense, in 2010: end Barca's domination.
El Mundo, meanwhile, pointed out that “it is impossible” to label Mourinho a “defensive coach” because his team has scored 109 league goals, a new Spanish record.
Ronaldo, who scored the late winner in Barcelona, has been called the man of the season by almost every paper, because of his new record of 42 goals.
The Madrid media have also proclaimed the “end of an era” for Barcelona, suggesting that Pep Guardiola's team looked tired physically and mentally.
Several papers suggested on Sunday that the Clasico defeat might encourage Guardiola - who has still not signed up for next season - to leave the club.
The media in Catalonia, on the other hand, conceded that Xavi, Lionel Messi and company were dull and weary on Saturday, but should still be respected as the best team in the world.
According to radio station RAC-1, “Barca will show on Tuesday (against Chelsea) that they are still a massive force to be reckoned with.”
Guardiola's team lost the first leg 1-0 to Chelsea, and if they fail to overturn that deficit then their season will finish on a very flat note.
Catalan daily Sport expressed the hope that Barca reach the Champions final once again - their third within four seasons - and “take full revenge” on Real by beating them in Munich. - Sapa-dpa