There's about half an hour to go before the Madrid derby kicks of at the Calderon and I have lots to through between now and then. A cracking 4-0 home win against Murcia followed by a solid 0-0 against Sevilla in the Copa, Deco back in the team, Messi fit again to face Santander tonight, Jose Pinto signed to replace Jorquera, Zambrotta staying put, Sammy and Yaya off to the African Cup of Nations for up to six weeks and Roberto Mancini is interested in 'dinho (he can have him).
Let's begin on the pitch. A comprehensive trouncing of Murcia at the Camp Nou last weekend with a virtuoso performance from the new face of Gillette, Thierry Henry. There were also two gols from Eto'o, who left for the African Cup of Nations the very next day. Eto'o, given a standing ovation as he was substituted, has hit top form again and his loss will be keenly felt in the next few weeks.
A few days later Barcelona produced an unusually accomplished defensive performance against Copa Del Rey holders Sevilla to hold out for a 0-0 draw, enough to put them through to face Villarreal in the quarter-finals. While there was more than one "oh my good god" hands-on-head last ditch defending, Sevilla, despite pouring forward couldn't put the ball past Valdes (okay Navas managed it but that was offside). It was more the sort of result you'd expect from Milan or Juve.
Onto transfer news now and Celta Vigo 'keeper Jose Pinto has arrived on loan until the summer. Celta will be paid €500,000 and the blaugrana have the option to make the deal permanent in the summer should Pinto impress or should they just wish to ditch Albert Jorquera. I seen a fair bit of Pinto at Vigo and I can't say I've been all that impressed with him. Now he's unlikely to see much action so long as Valdes stays fit but I would have rather they take a punt on Oscar Ustari at Getafe. Pinto will wear number 13.
Casting an eye over to Serie A, Gianluca Zambrotta will definitely not be joining Milan in the transfer window but will leave the blaugrana in the summer. So says Silvio Berlusconi. Joining him at the San Siro but wearing the Nerazzuri shirt could be Ronaldinho. Roberto Mancini, clearly having hit his head before the press conference, talked up Inter's chances of signing 'dinho come the end of the season. Lord know's why. Perhaps he fancies a challenge.
Finally, the squad for tonight's game has been announced and the good news is that Leo Messi, out since before Christmas is back in the game. A la Mess, a la Mess!