Andy Mitten

Real cling to Pichichi as Barca take title

Andy Mitten

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"Madrid, cabron, saluda al campeon."

It's a song heard frequently in Barcelona, where cules request that Real Madrid salute the champions.

For those unfamiliar with Spanish, it's probably not a good idea to call the waiter a cabron if you're venturing to Spain on holiday. It's a vulgar and offensive term, as appropriate as Borat Sagdiye telling the socialite Lady Chelsea that he's just been to the toilet.

It wasn't just Barca fans singing the song six years ago, but their star striker Samuel Eto'o.

Wind back to May 2005 and Barcelona had just won their first league title in six years at Levante away. As the players celebrated back at the Camp Nou in a special event put on to mark the occasion, Eto'o grabbed the microphone and began to sing. The fans loved it and Eto'o appeared to enjoy the moment.

The brilliant Cameroonian frequently wore his heart on his sleeve. When it came to interviews he was like Roy Keane: brutally honest and usually brilliant. He once said that he worked like a black man so that he could live like a white man.

I loved interviewing him because he was bright, perceptive and because you never knew what was coming next.

On one occasion, he smiled as he suggested a visit to Cameroon because the women had the most fantastic breasts. A minute later he scowled from his sofa because I'd asked if his brother Etienne was good enough to make it as a professional footballer.

"Of course," he said with contempt. "He's my brother." Etienne currently plays in front of 200 fans a week in a Catalan village with 1,500 residents.

The enormous consequences of Eto'o's impromptu song hit home the following day when he saw the newspapers. He was headline news and quickly apologised. It wasn't any ordinary apology, but one where he explained that he shouldn't spit into the bowl which once fed him.

Eto'o, famously, was rejected by Madrid. Their loss, as they have been reminded many times since.

Barca have not looked back since that 2005 title win under Frank Rijkaard. They won the league again in 2006 and they've won it every season since Pep Guardiola took charge in 2008.

The Catalans lifted a third consecutive title last night — ironically again at Levante's dated, exposed stadium on the northern edge of Valencia's urban sprawl.

Guardiola can now rest key players ahead of the Champions League final on May 28th.

Madrid, with a record 31 league triumphs, have again pushed Barca as they claimed their 21st title. Jose Mourinho's side beat struggling neighbours Getafe 4-0 on Tuesday night.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored three and became the first player in the history of La Liga to bag six hat-tricks in a single season. He's now hit seven in two games to move well clear of Lionel Messi in the race for the Pichchi top scorers' award.

With 36 league goals to Messi's 31, Ronaldo is the clear favourite to become the first Madrid player to win the award since Ruud van Nistelrooy (with a relatively paltry 25) in 2006-07.

Eto'o, incidentally, won it with 26 goals in 2005-06. He celebrated by buying 42 Toyotas for his friends and family to run as an extended taxi fleet back in Cameroon.

With two games to play, Ronaldo is just two goals behind the 38-goal record for a league season jointly held by Athletic Bilbao's legendary six time Pichichi winner Zarra in 1950-51 and Madrid's Hugo Sanchez in 1989-90.

Ronaldo has also broken Alfredo Di Stefano's record for goals in a season. He now boasts 50 goals in all competitions for Madrid this term. Fifty. The stats are very impressive and there's no shortage of former Madrid legends waiting to praise him in the Madrid press, who've predictably elevated the status of the Pichichi since one of their own is set to win it.

It also helps them forget that Barca have won the League, though it's unlikely any of their players will be calling Madrid expletives, regardless of how ugly the four recent Clasicos were.

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